Jake Brooker is an artist who for the last three years was in a band called The Frescaders. The band broke up and he released a five-song EP Built to Wander (The Gypsy Sessions). It is a lo-fi demo quality EP that felt like a tip of the hat to folk music from the ’60s. The album is stripped down revolving mostly around acoustic guitar and vocals.
Truth be told Brooker has a lot of competition these days. Ever since digital recording got decent very similar artists have been taking advantage of the medium. In 2017 you really have to stick out in some way. Artists who stick to mainly strumming chords and singing are going to have a hard time sticking unless there is something utterly unique about the artist.
He opens with “The Ship” which is folk 101. Brooker’s vocal delivery is somewhere between talking and singing. He tries to get some energy in the song and I felt a bass and percussion would have helped out in this department.
The highlight in the album was “Will to Survive.” I thought the percussive elements and the lead guitar were some of the most inspired moments on the album. The vocals were also notable. “Seraphine” features some solid guitar picking. Brooker’s best assets on this EP are the lyrics which I felt were original. He sings, “Seraphine I can see my house from here. I can taste the air for tears that you swept across the city. You were cast out, lost and lonely, I was wrecked from wasted nights.”
“Growing Pains” sounds for better or worse like a cover song of a ’60s folk song. There were a number of songs from popular ’60s folk singers that this song reminded me of. The chord structure was also very familiar sounding. “Built to Wander” follows a similar feel but fares better than “Growing Pains.” The melancholy sounds good on him.
I think Brooker is a good songwriter but I would like to see him push a more defined sound in the future as well as get a more professional sounding recording. It felt pretty general and not as distinct as a folk artist like Kristian Matsson for example.
Overall, Brooker has a lot of good things going for him and I look forward to his evolution. Recommended.
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