Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jacob Banks
Listening to Village by Jacob Banks was an interesting and enjoyable experience from a harmonic and texture standpoint. The album starts off with the track “Chainsmoking” which is a rerecorded version of a tune that put Banks on the map with his 2017 EP, The Boy Who Cried Freedom. The addictive “dragged backbeat” feel to this song proves to be enjoyable to listen to the second time around as well. This track is a bold choice to start the album with, as it has a much more aggressive beat than most of the others on this album.
A stand out track on Village was the beautiful duet featuring the illustrious Bibi Bourelly entitled, “Kumbaya”. This track is very minimalist compared to some of the more produced tracks on the album but that is the magic of it. The light vocals with soulful inflections and lyrics are extremely effective in eliciting emotion in the listener. The buildup in instruments during the chorus is another great approach to appealing to the listener as crowding the “ear space” too soon is overbearing for many listeners. An instrumental element that truly adds to the song is the string section during the few musical breaks and during the pre and post chorus sections. There is also a very tasteful guitar solo on this track that adds to the instrumental diversity of the song. Although, the song does end fairly quickly and would definitely benefit from a slower fade out to end the track.
The song “Caroline” is also an excellent addition to Village. This track features some nice light piano and a pretty melody. There are some great textures instrument-wise despite the synth occasionally getting annoying. The real “bread and butter” to this song is definitely the reverb harmonies behind the vocals. These elements really add some more emotion and feeling to the song while also filling in some empty holes in the harmonic space of the tune.
“Witness” is a very warm track that starts with some synth elements and some vocal patches in the distance. The intro is followed with another catchy, light melody by the distinct baritone voice of Banks. This song definitely has many more chords than the others, which is certainly welcomed on Village. The combination between the enticing melody and the harmonic interest makes for a pretty solid track here.
For the verdict of the album, it was pretty good! There are definitely some memorable tracks and some more filler items, such as the track “Be Good To Me”, but overall it is a solid effort by Banks. Jacob Banks has a very specific style that may be hard for some people to listen to for extended periods of time, making his vocal style more of an acquired taste. However, it is his unique vocals that separate this artist from the majority of mainstream musicians currently on the radio.