REVIEW: Jake Allen — “Affirmation Day” (LP)
2020 has provided us with quite the interesting year on all fronts, and this is especially true in the world of independent music. A diversity of style and aesthetical influence has transformed from a simmer to a boil in recent times, and with the advent of a new era in pop, singer/songwriters like Jake Allen are emerging from the shadows of an American underground overwhelmed with incredible talent. Allen is no stranger to the stage nor the spotlight — he’s been in the game for over a decade now, and in his new album Affirmation Day he doesn’t try to play to a specific narrative within his sound so much as he attempts to evolve his artistry. The results are songs like “Living Ghost,” “Clear,” “On the Run” and “Only You,” each of which could be a star single in their own right.
PRIMARY URL: https://www.jakeallenmusic.com/
Even though all of this material was recorded inside of a studio, there’s an energy and enthusiasm to the execution we get from Jake Allen in performances of an eclectic rocker “Prague 6” as well as more tempered tunes like the title cut and “Things We’ll Never Find” is absolutely what I would normally expect out of a live concert. The passion that comes at us from both the lyrics and the harmonies that frame them so personally is undeniably authentic, as referenced by the intimate tone of the storytelling that pushes forth every climax Affirmation Day has to offer. It’s a little rawer than his last LP was, but in an emotional context (and for what the larger goal here was), I think it should be.
As far as production quality goes, this album definitely has a nice polish that a lot of other indie players might deem a little too poppy to remain relegated to the college radio element exclusively, but it’s absolutely not as invasive as it could have been. “Two Faced” and “More Than Meets the Eye” spring back into place without a lot of wet reverb lagging behind their verses, while “I’ll See You On the Other Side” shamelessly flirts with avant-gardism in spots only to give up its surrealism in favor of the most straightforward lyrics on the album. What does this all add up to? In its totality, this tracklist is far more rebellious of the mainstream model than it is subservient, and the substance of the composing style confirms as much.
I only just found out about Jake Allen this year, but if this is representative of what his sound and musical direction are going to consist of in the future, I’m going to stay on the lookout for more of his content for sure. He’s definitely one of the more unique singer/songwriters applying gentle grooves to otherwise alternative rock melodies, and though this record boasts more balladry than it does bruising beats, it’s a hook-laden treat nonetheless. In short, I’d recommend keeping this artist on your radar — with this LP, he’s absolutely earned a spot on mine.