It may not have been inspired by the most enjoyable period of his life, but what Sam Jacobs and his associates have created here is fascinating.
There’s just not enough mumbling in music nowadays. Bob Dylan has made some of his best work when he’s mumbled – as opposed to whining – and, let’s face it, Lambchop and the late, great John Martyn have made entire careers out of drawling their words. Thankfully we’ve got The Flying Change to step up to that mantle now and my word is it .
I could say their sound is folk rock but that would be doing it a real disservice. Think of any guitar-centric genre of music and you’ll find snippets of it in here. Part folk, part rock, part electronica, all parts bloody brilliant, pain is a reliable signal is the kind of record that defies categorization and is all the better for it. The Flying Change have created an album that’s deceptively complex, deceptive in that it sounds very simple indeed. It’s a gentle, if somewhat melancholy record and the band have thrown their whole hearts into it. There’s a good reason for that. The album’s songs address the health troubles that songwriter Sam Jacobs’ his wife has faced over the past few years. Jacobs deals honestly and unflinchingly with the subject matter, yet manages to hold things on the right side of self pity to keep the songs accessible, which is not an easy thing to accomplish.
There are so many ideas and little flourishes contained in each song that it’s obvious that this is a labour of love but the fact that everything is so expertly put together though is a triumph, as every single little piece feels worthy of inclusion, warranted even. There are a lot of ideas on show here and yet you’ll hardly notice them because everything seems to be put in for a reason, as opposed to showing off. The quality of the tunes is extremely high, the standard of musicianship is really strong and then there’s that voice, that wonderful voice. I’m not sure if Sam Jacobs sings like either like he’s been up for thirty six hours straight and is about to fall asleep or as if he simply can’t be bothered to open his mouth properly, but there’s a beautiful resonance to his vocals that I find delightful to listen to.
It may not have been inspired by the most enjoyable period of his life, but what Sam Jacobs and his associates have created here is fascinating. Well meaning, well intentioned, impassioned and completely worthy of your time and money this is one of the easiest albums I’ve ever had to recommend. It’s a truly powerful and mature piece of work and if ever there was an album worth seeking out, this is it. A true gem.
Words: Damian Leslie