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I’ve heard it said to “write what you know” when it comes to music. In the case of Jacob Green, that seems to be the case. His latest album “Travelin’ Soul,” that was just finished last week, is well named. Green has spent a good amount of time on the road touring and playing as a one man band. Although his home town is Milwaukee, he prefers to stay busy playing shows as a multi-instrumentalist singer/song-writer and his knack for both bringing out different instruments and writing catchy tunes is displayed on the album.
While many take the opportunity to do some multi-tracking and bring in other bits of “studio magic” into a recording, Green has kept this album to what one could probably expect at one of his shows. “This album was recorded completely live, not as in a live show but live as in all the vocals, instruments & stomp box were recorded by me playing them simultaneously all at once, and/or on the spot, which also what I wanted to do, make an album that’s the closest thing that you can get to my live performance, raw, live & simple, but still entertaining,” stated Green in a message he sent with the album.
The album begins with the high energy and fast paced song “Cuttin’ Me Down” where he shreds away on the slide guitar. The pounding of a stomp box is used heavily through most of the album, and besides some tambourine, is the primary percussion.
With the next song “RiverWest Blues,” he tones things down with a more roots/folk feel on the guitar. The harmonica comes into play as it will on many more of the tracks on the album. The song is about his love/hate relationship with his hometown of Milwaukee.
The third track on the album “Down in the Dirt” stands out. For one, it’s the only track where he plays the banjo. It is also one of the few songs on the album that doesn’t deal with being on the road and playing music. The song deals with poverty, politics and the environment and the struggles the human race faces in the reality of such issues.
Green brings in a number of genres into this sound. Although overall it could be considered “roots” music, he angles certain influences a little differently in each track. With the song “Stomp,” it’s a lively delta blues style song. It’s not exactly the deepest song lyrically, but certainly has some fun energy to it. Another jangley roots song is the song “Ain’t No Sense,” where it seems to be played on a Dobro using a slide.
As a one man band, it’s fair to say that Green has worked on enough techniques to keep the music interesting; he seldom is just strumming on a guitar on the album. In the track “Runnin’” he plays a mix of blues and country that is accented with the harmonica. It becomes apparent that although he is playing by himself, there’s quite a bit going on. He practically puts down layers of the guitar in real time. Later in the track there are flourishes of finger taps and string pulls that are pretty technical.
The album ends with the song “Stole My Soul,” which is one of the more emotional tracks on the album and brings out what sounds to be a lone Ukelele. As far as roots, folk and blues music goes, Green does a terrific job on his own and manages to carry a lot of energy mixed with solid musicianship. My only real criticism on the album is that as far as lyrical depth and topics, he stays pretty centered. “Down in the Dirt” and “Stole My Soul” are perhaps the songs that stand out the most as far as having a message with some impact.
Since the song “Down in the Dirt” does have political and environmental messages, it seems fitting that Green will be playing at the March Against Monsanto gathering, which will be held at the Minnesota Power Plaza on Superior St. and Lake Ave. on Saturday at 1 p.m.
He will also playing at Sir Benedicts on Friday after 8 p.m. and will also be playing Saturday night at Fitger’s Brewhouse.