Truth Be Told, the first full-length album from musical duo Jacknife Sympathy (comprised of Vincent Parker and Danny Serrato), slides into a thick, bouncy groove straight from the beginning of “Curtis Blues,” the opening track of the record. Listeners can hardly resist nodding along to the relaxed, steady beat of clean drums, repeating riffs of guitars and occasional bright bellows from a horn section. Throughout the album, and especially in this song, multiple voices are stratified and layered on top of each other, creating a choir prone to ad-libbing and impromptu solos.
“Holier Than Thou” oscillates between deadpan, solemn spoken word and smooth vocals that echo the rapping. The mood of this piece is cynical, almost biting, but not in an outrightly belligerent way. The theme of this song deals with religious hypocrites, and Parker and Serrato make clear their view of such people. The doleful “Grit & Bear It” follows, heavily shaped by soul and gospel influences, filled with genuine, raw emotion and a hopeful tone despite the depressing circumstances described in the lyrics.
The tribal percussion combined with distorted guitars and synthesized organ sound bytes featured in the intro of “Kingdom Come” give the album a much-needed revitalization precisely at the midway point of the record. This song is the most chaotic yet on the album, but the reverb-laced vocals sink deep into the soundscape, giving structure and lead to the otherwise repeating, droning, hypnotic instruments.
A complete about face from “Kingdom Come” is “Little One,” a harmonious ballad examining the love between a parent and child. It is in this track that Jacknife Sympathy shows their sympathetic side, giving this song a top spot on the album. The saxophone and horns that appear towards the end of the song do much to carry on the energy of the song to the very end.
The final two songs on the album, “Money 4 Gold” and “Follow You” combine the best of R&B, blues, rock and roll, and soul music in two catchy, unique tunes. If anything, I only wish that the haunting beat at the onset of “Follow You” could have been repeated and featured more throughout the song - it’s a great beat. As a group, Serrato and Parker apparently build well off of one another, each contributing to the shape and sound of their music, which has emerged as a well-rounded, stylistically authoritative record that speaks well to the future of the band.
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