Brian Jacobs
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Brian Jacobs

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Brian Jacobs prefers the piano to the guitar when it comes to his brand of singer-songwriting. His is a refined style, more Broadway showpiece than Norah Jones ditty. In fact, the closest comparison is early Tori Amos, both in Jacobs's elegantly tortured voice and his self-possessed subject matter. While his delivery sounds closer to David Glasper, the frontman for '90s pop footnotes Breathe, than Ms. Amos, I suspect they could still spend a long evening discussing the perils of sex, self-reliance and librettos.

Jacobs is a Dartmouth graduate with a Juilliard background. His songs are more suited to coats, scarves and fireplaces than carefree days and sunny delights. The weight of the world sometimes seems to bear down upon his slender shoulders, resulting in a preternaturally mature work. He (or his narrative alter-ego) confesses the delicacy of still being a virgin at 21 ("Two Faces"), crafts a classical ode to lost love and the sea ("Poseidon") and a cautiously optimistic tale of newfound love ("Fairytale (Love)"). He even draws upon his knowledge of French, singing "Fairytale"'s closing entirely in his second language.

Admittedly overlong in spots, and marred by the occasional sour note from an artist possibly more comfortable expressing himself through the piano than in his own voice, Two Faces could be considered a bit narcissistic. It could also be recognized as a dense and powerful work by an emerging artist with an ear for the dramatic and a strong sense of self. As most of the above could have been said about Ms. Amos's Little Earthquakes once upon a time, and quite probably was, I'd say that Mr. Jacobs is in appropriately accomplished company.
- Justin Kownacki


This is hardly the same artist whose debut Untie Me I reviewed two years ago. Brian Jacobs is exploring a whole new universe of music. With its classical orchestration and dramatic, sometimes literature-inspired lyrics, his new offering, Two Faces, is a blissful, disturbing, darkly beautiful CD.

The music swells and crashes like an ocean. Piano, percussion, violins, oboes, violas, cello. (And what beautiful cello work, courtesy of Lindsay MacIndoe.) Sometimes the music feels like a walk on cobblestone streets in the fog. Other times, it's dream-tossed sleep.

The CD feels like I'm watching an opera, helplessly watching the characters drift toward their doom and being caught up in the beauty of it. Fans of classical music and opera should definitely give this a listen. With both his music and words, Jacobs has a way of making sadness sharply real.

He layers psychological edges into these songs. Both "Peace" tracks contain conversation we can barely hear. "Oxygen" creates a character that sounds like he's dealing with shock by sinking into denial and isolation. The title track contains violent imagery framed by the orchestra. This stays with you. It swept me away. Jacobs has woven his soul and secrets into a perfect work of art. - Jennifer Layton


Discography

Untie Me (1999)
Two Faces (2002)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Brian Jacobs (August 23, 1980), originally from New Jersey, found his passion for music early on in life. Inspired by the sounds of new age piano, he began to compose at the age of ten, eventually layering his music with vocals, drums, strings and other instruments.

Brian went on to study music at Dartmouth College where, during his second year, he released his debut solo album, Untie Me (1999). This album laid the ground for Brian’s musical career, defining him as a passionate, sensitive and profound composer, completely willing to open up in his music. Following the release of Untie Me, Brian was awarded the title of “Best New Artist of the Year” from Jam Music Magazine, New Hampshire’s premiere arts and entertainment magazine.

While at the College, Brian was privileged with the opportunity to work with some of the nation’s most influential and pioneering composers who had a profound effect on his music. In 2002, Brian went on to compose the music for, orchestrate and engineer the recording of his second album, Two Faces. Completed as an honors thesis, this album clearly shows Brian’s growth as a composer.

The album has been lauded by critics as “a perfect work of art” and been described as a “blissful, disturbing, darkly beautiful CD.” Besides the addition of drums and a string quartet, occasional vocal snippets and odd sonic effects permeate Two Faces, creating a richer, more evocative background for what remains the centerpiece of Brian’s music: the piano and vocals.