Jake Walden
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Jake Walden

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
Band Pop Adult Contemporary


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"Jake Walden is Alive and Screaming"

Word to the wise: If you plan on catching Jake Walden on his upcoming national concert dates this summer, you may just be moved to tears. It's happened pretty consistently since Jake first took to the stage three years ago, and while he doesn't set out to put on a sad show, reaching that intimate, emotional connection with the audience is a thrill the 28-year-old singer-songwriter has come to live for.

"The message of the album is to embrace what is sad and hard and heartbreaking, to know that it is all a part of the risk you take," Jake says of his debut set, Alive and Screaming, which was largely created in the aftermath of ending a relationship a few years back. "The interesting part of it is that I don't necessarily write songs about being gay. I believe my music is just about the truth about what I see and who I am. If you listen to the album, it's not necessarily about men or women. Yes, it's very personal, but I think a musician's job is to paint a picture for each person. So while my music is very personal, I hope it is also universal."

Jake's musical stylings echo a healthy influence of singer-songwriter greats like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, encouraged by the "hippie" parents who raised him in the redwoods of Northern California. The self-professed Renaissance man moved to L.A. six years ago for acting, but it was music that ultimately became his calling. "The first song I ever wrote was when I was 20 or 21," he says. "Somewhere in there, something just shifted in my life and music became everything. I discovered my voice and discovered what I wanted to say."

What he wanted to say was coming from an emotional, mature-beyond-his-age place. The tracks that make up Alive and Screaming, including the first song he ever wrote, "Too Young," are of the moody piano variety, part folk, part pop (be sure to check out his cover of "Bleeding Love" online - gorgeous!). And in a world ruled by image, Jake says he has always been most comfortable in his own skin and was never tempted to conform.

"Maybe it's the modern gay, but I honestly never even thought about staying in the closet for my career," he says. "It's just such a small part of my life. I figured I could be a cog in the wheel or I can be something different and be a part of an evolution, because it's an exciting time right now. Knowing the type of person I am, knowing that there has largely been a certain type of gay person that has been shown in the media, one that I don't necessarily relate to, I feel really proud to show all sides of who I am, and that includes saying that I'm gay."
- Instinct

"Music Reviews: Rival Sons; Digitalism; Eleanor Friedberger; The Feeling; Jake Walden; Sons and Daughters"

Jake Walden — Same Something Different (Jake Walden Music)

On his sophomore release Same Something Different, North Carolina-raised songwriter Jake Walden comes across as Bryan Adams with much better songs. The Adams comparison is inescapable—his vocal imprint is raspy and white boy soulful; the more up-tempo songs veer dangerously close to the wrong side of the middle-of-the-road. Yet Walden’s aching sincerity on these 11 tracks is infectious. The opener “Even in Your Doubt”—all acoustic guitars and pining violin—sets a blueprint for the songs that follow: romantic ballads juxtaposed with cell-phone waving anthems that limn the difficulties of rough relationships and starting over. He bravely tackles Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.” He doesn’t better it (no one could), but he doesn’t disgrace himself, either. And the piano-based ballads are solid—the title track, the alt-tinged “Simple Life,” and the statement-of-intent “Dreamer.” One caveat about that last tune, though. Where Lady Gaga calls her fans “Little Monsters” (a fierce concept) Walden has his “Dreamers” (oh lord, I can smell the patchouli). I suppose it could be worse for a boy raised by hippies—that utopian empty-headedness could seep into the songwriting itself—yet he makes it work by sheer talent, unaffectedness and not singing about hobbits. —Dan Loughry - FrontiersLA.com

"Hot Sheet - The top 10 entertainment highlights on our gaydar this week: Neil Patrick Harris smurfs up with Tim Gunn, Jane Lynch talks about pussies, Andy Warhol gets a pricey tribute, Jake Walden gives back to his fans, and more."

1. MUSIC: Same Something Different, Jake Walden
After 2008’s Alive and Screaming, which was all about heartbreak, out L.A.-based singer-songwriter Walden rebounds with a passionate new album — completely funded by fan support — that celebrates love, hope, and self-acceptance. Also adept at exorcising personal demons, Walden wraps his warm, raspy vocals around an anthemic rerecording of old fave “We Are Not Broken” and a stellar cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.” - The Advocate

"Meet the (Gay) Folkers"

Eric Himan often comes across like a gay James Taylor, while Jake Walden calls to mind a gay Marc Cohn

Eric Himan covers more ground on his new album, Supposed Unknown, than any of his previous sets. And yet, the strapping gay singer-songwriter still can't keep up with his lover. ''Nothing sticks to you,'' he sings on the hard-charging, amped-up rocker ''Dust,'' talking about a lover who's moving full-steam ahead. ''You make me feel so still, like I'm collecting dust.''

In fact, comparatively speaking, Himan does collect dust at other turns on the album. Despite his hardened image of tattoos, muscles and steely looks, Himan has always been more of a folk-rocker than a hard-rocker. And here as ever the tenor spends a bit more time contemplating the seriousness of love and life at a slow tempo, with straightforward support from an acoustic guitar, or a piano, and little else.

''And I bet you think I'm crazy, to lead you into doubt,'' Himan sings on the heartbreaking ballad ''Left Out.'' He hesitates repeatedly as he expresses his pain. ''And I'm struggling to show you that, in this love, I feel, left out.'' And all you hear other than his earnest voice and lyrics is a haunting piano, the occasional, faint beat of a drum machine -- and the echo it all makes in an empty room. This is an exquisite kind of ache.

Himan recorded Supposed Unknown in transgender singer-songwriter Namoli Brennet's home studio in Tucson, Ariz., and he credits that for giving the set a warmer, fuller sound than before. Certainly it benefits from Brennet's support on backing vocals and instrumentation.

There are many acoustic delights to be found on the 12-track album. Maybe you'll favor ''Out In The Outer Banks,'' seemingly a take on Don McLean's ''American Pie.'' Or the James Taylor-esque ''You Come Around.'' Few could deny the sweet folk of ''Is This My Life?'' or the bluesy and amusingly themed ''Theme of a Former Pushover.''

And yet, once again I find Himan most compelling when he picks up his electric guitar and gives it to us hard. ''Dust'' hits the hardest, but ''Lonely No More'' packs more punch -- and not just because Himan shouts the title at song's end in a pique of self-determination. It's all about how he gets to that shout. The song bristles with an undercurrent of rock heat to start, with electric guitars growling in the background. But then Himan cuts to a restrained bridge, singing, ''I don't want to be lonely, no more'' over and over, working himself into a state that cannot be contained. Brennet harmonizes with him to finish out the song with an ecstatic chorus, bringing to life the titular wish. No one could feel lonely after hearing this.

IF ERIC HIMAN OFTEN comes across a bit like a gay James Taylor -- or a male Amy Ray -- Jake Walden may strike you as a gay Marc Cohn (''Walking In Memphis''), or occasionally even Loudon Wainwright III. His gravelly voice and earnest lyrics and music have an impact beyond what you might expect from any description of it, or a first listen.

Walden is a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter whose music has gotten some play as background tunes for television shows, including Cougar Town and Scrubs. The title of his new album, Same Something Different, funded in part with support from nearly 200 of his Facebook fans, is meant to convey a connection with his debut, 2008's Alive and Screaming. But it also perfectly describes the sound of his music and your reception to it. It's the same kind of sweet, soft, melodic pop, with a dash of country and even more folk, that intermittently hits big in the mainstream.

For example, the verses slowly, dramatically ascend to the chorus in ''When The World Lay Still'' in the same manner, if without quite the same intensity, as Roy Orbison's ''I Drove All Night.''

Another example is ''We Are Not Broken,'' which in fact appeared on Walden's debut in a slightly different version titled ''We Are.'' Warden has said the song gets a big emotional response in concert. It's not hard to hear why: This is a sing-a-long anthem of the first order, and though it's not explicitly gay, it's certainly gay affirming. In an alternate universe, it would have already hit the pop charts.

''Simple Life'' may be the most dramatic tune here, with Walden pausing for a beat before letting loose a cry of ''yeah'' to launch into yet another affecting, anthemic chorus.

Walden's raspy voice carries an edge that takes a little warming up to; Walden's not the type of singer who could sing anything, and he doesn't draw you in with little or no effort. But he's so sweet and sincere, and the mostly piano-driven music so eager to please, you can't help but appreciate and respect his dedication. He's definitely an artist to watch. - Metro Weekly (Syndicated)

"BRIEF ENCOUNTER: Everything's Jake"

“Every time I come to New York I feel the energy,” says L.A.-based singer/songwriter Jake Walden, who performs at the Bitter End tonight. “The people here are quicker to tap into their emotions and unafraid to be themselves. I feel very inspired.” We’re inspired by Walden’s earnest lyrics, sultry voice, and Matthew Morrison-type good looks. Walden chatted with Next about his new album, Same Something Different , his sexuality and whether he’s on the market. —Dan Avery

What are some of the themes Different touches on?
Who I am and who I am not. Being brave enough to live in truth, to face each day and be oneself. It’s about the dark and the light and the struggle for meaning—and it’s about my family and where I come from. It is also about my demons, depression and how I have learned as a “dreamer” to remember to keep moving forward.

Are there any tracks that stand out for you?
The title track, “Same Something Different [was] the first song I wrote for the record and is really the heart of the album… Also I re-recorded a song from my first album called “We Are Not Broken” in a very fresh and big way. It’s my sort-of-anthem—it’s about acceptance and knowing that we are not alone.

How is Something different from your earlier album, Alive and Screaming?
Alive and Screaming was about the one big heartbreak of my life—the one that was all wrong. It was created out of sadness but always with a hope for what was to come. Same Something Different is what came. It is about the last three years of my life. Finding real love, watching my sister marry and have a baby, and remembering our path together.

How important is your sexuality to your songwriting? Or is it Important At All?
I am an artist who happens to be gay, not a gay artist. I challenge myself to write music that speaks to the universal truths—gay, straight whatever… Some of my songs may be about a man, because I am in love with a man, but I try to be a bit ambiguous.

You’ve called yourself an “introvert living an extroverted life.” Do you still feel that way?
I feel this way nearly every day! I look around me and I wonder how people do it. I need a lot of alone time.

Are you single, dating, in a relationship or what?
I’m actually engaged—we’re just waiting for California to stop being such an asshole and look to New York [for marriage equality]! I’ll tell you what I wrote in the liner notes: “This album is inspired by Joshua, my MVP, the one person who dares to take me on. You are the first and last thing I think of every day of my life.” - Next Magazine

"Listen In"

Suppress you road rage with mellow songs from four up-and-comers:

"Alive and Screaming" by Jake Walden on Alive and Screaming

"Come Over" by Estelle on Shine

"I'd Rather Be with You" by Joshua Radin on Simple Times

"Melt My Heart to Stone" by Adele on 19
- In Style Magazine

"CMJ Essentials"

Jake Walden is the product of a fully Californian upbringing, and it shows in his debut album, which pulses with breezy openness and informality. "I'm just speaking from my heart," he sings on "For Someone," and it's hard to doubt him. The mostly piano-driven ballads are bittersweet, with Tom Waits-ian level in both expressiveness and raspiness on the stand-out track "Too Young."
The music can get a wee preachy, as it does on "We Are" when Walden advises, "Try to believe in one another/Try on all the wrong, all the glory/Try through the ache of needing God and love." Only, it feels so well-meant and unselfconscious that we forgive him.

Recommend if you like: Cat Stevens, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen - CMJ

"One to Watch in 2008"

Balladeers don't come much more sensitive than Jake Walden - and he's the first to admit it. "I'm even sensitive to light," he laughs, noting that it's "a strong sign of an introvert." Onstage, however, Walden is anything but shy, winning over crowds with performances inspired by his emotional debut album, the independent release Alive and Screaming. Though the 28-year-old originally moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, a fateful open-mic night nudged him into music, and a series of heartbreaks gave him plenty of motivation for material. "The were such dramatic times for me that they couldn't help but be the catalyst for me to start really writing," he says. "I finally became that person I'd always envisioned, spending nights naked in the corner, writing poetry."

Raised in what he affectionately describes as a "hippie town" in Sonoma County, Calif., the openhearted Walden grew up free of labels - which left him nervous about being categorized as a gay musician. "I have industry people that are on my team - gay people - that are saying 'No, don't [come out]! Not now at the beginning of your career because then people will only see you as that.'" Still, despite some real reservations, Walden decided to take the plunge "because it's my life," he says. "Every letter I write to anyone - tens, hundreds of MySpace messages - I always end it with 'Be you.' How, then, could I possibly live my life as it grows and not be myself?" - The Advocate


Alive and Screaming - 2008

Bleeding Love EP - 2009

Alive and Screaming Deluxe Edition - 2009

Same Something Different - July 2011



In the last few years, Jake Walden has established himself as one of the most celebrated singer/songwriters on L.A.’s café circuit, playing regular gigs at the legendary Hotel Café and earning praise from critics at CMJ, InStyle, The Advocate, and others, as well as key placements on television networks ABC, CW, MTV and OWN. A northern California-raised child of hippies whose first inclination was to deny his sentimental roots, Jake’s need to connect with others eventually overruled his desire to rebel. With his heart stopping soulful velvet gravel voice, and gift for storytelling, music was the obvious vehicle.

For his first album, 2008’s Alive and Screaming, Jake found his voice in heartbreak: A year spent in near-solitude with little more than a rented piano and his thoughts. Intensely personal songs reflected a time of longing and hurt, but never shied away from the idea of living life to the fullest, that hope was just around the corner. That hope now plays out in Same Something Different. Written largely during what he calls a “dust in the wind” period of his life spent touring-slash-couchsurfing, the album explores everything from his battles with depression to the immense joy he felt at his sister’s wedding to classic themes of love, loss and the struggle for a dreamer (as he calls himself and his fans) to embracing who he is and who he isn't. This time, there’s beauty in the pain. “I set out to write an album not about a specific feeling or time, but something to encompass all of who I am,” Jake says. “I am a person who very openly struggles—a true introvert living an extroverted life. But I am also a happy, loved, loving person, and it was important for me to explore that, too.”

Though its stories are personal, Same Something Different came together as a group effort. Jake’s dedication to blogging, Facebook, and other forms of social media—notable for a guy who didn’t even own a computer until five years ago—keep him connected to his fan base. Nearly 200 of these fans ultimately pledged $24,000 to help make Same Something Different a reality. The support, Jake says, reinforced he was on the right path, both professionally and personally. “I’d love to have a hit, believe me,” he says. “But more important is feeling like I’ll be able to make music that matters not only to me but to those who make my songs a part of their lives for the next 20 years. That feeling became more real once I realized that so many others were also invested in that possibility.”

Produced by Christopher Thorn (Blind Melon, Anna Nalick, Under The Influence of Giants) and recorded at Fireside Studios in Silverlake, Same Something Different lives up to its title: The songs convey the familiar sense of yearning that Jake’s fans have come to expect, but with a newly hopeful subtext. “It’s both where I come from and where I want to be,” he explains. Ballads sung with raw vocals keep the vibe low-key, while a full band backing helps create a mood of epic celebration. The takeaway: It’s possible—perfectly normal, even—to be content, yet still search for more. “There’s always a sense of longing and some pain that comes along with seeking anything that’s great in life,” says Jake. “I’m a person who has lived in a lot of darkness. This album doesn’t deny that, but at the same time through it, I step out into the light.”