One of the hardest tasks in any creative effort is completion. Ask the thousands of would be screenwriters, poets, songwriters or visual artists and they will point to their stacks of unfinished works and confirm that molding a work of art into a cohesive final product is one of the most difficult aspects of creation. That being said, I must commend Philadelphia born actor and musician Jay Jacobsen on his forthcoming album, ‘The Ride’ due out on October 14th of this year. ‘The Ride’ is Jacobson’s fifth full length collection of songs and the follow up to 2012’s ‘Peace at Last’. The 11 songs contained on ‘The Ride’ are probably the most heartfelt of Jacobson’s career. And therein lies the rub.
Don’t get me wrong, Jacobson has crafted 11 songs with pleasing melodies and catchy hooks and overall, it is a pleasantly listenable album. The problems I have with ‘The Ride’ are not so much to do with Jacobson himself but with the music industry as a whole. I call it the American Idolization of the music business. Unfortunately, the industry these days is about money and not art so everything has to be carefully tested, focus-grouped, and sanitized to the point that artists like Jacobson have little soul left. For the emotional nature of these songs, I find the delivery to be over-produced, over-orchestrated, and sadly soulless.
Aristotle said the purpose of art was to arouse and purge emotion. Otherwise it’s just decoration and noise. I am sorry, Jay but when I listened to this collection of songs, I felt nothing. I’m sure it’s not your fault. I have seen you act and I know you can get in touch with your emotions but I just can’t help but get the sense that you had to hold back in recording this collection of songs. “Let’s make it as bland and banal as we can so as to appeal to as wide an audience as possible” instead of laying it out there and truly connecting with people on an emotional level. I guess as an artist, a choice must be made. Do you want to sell records or be respected by your peers? The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In this day and age, however, those who can do both are the true artists.
I am confident that ‘The Ride’ will appeal to a large group of consumers who like pablum and uninspired, pedestrian works of art but I would rather be moved and emotionally stimulated by the sounds coming from my stereo.
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.