"Glad To Say" by Jake Rizzo
It's a rather unbelievable two years since we last covered a Jake Rizzo release in this magazine, and ironically our review on that occasion covered two songs, "Try" and "Leaving" since they came out so close together that it caught us by surprise (in a very good way).
However I'm glad to report that the wait is now over as "Glad To Say" was released at midnight. Co-written with Tom Gortler, the song also features the very considerable talents of Matt Cotterill. Joe Dolman, James Burgess & Harry Green: need I say more about the stellar lineup he has assembled?
It is certainly been worth the wait: as with many other highly talented artists confined from doing what they love over the intervening period, you not only can safely assume that they have had the chance to really craft new material given the extra hours at their disposal, but when they've finished, the product can channel anything from frustration to a sense of liberation with an especial passion which might not have occurred without the pandemic.
In Jake's case, he seems to have clearly decided on a positive spin on things, such is his outlook on life & being the tasteful and subtle artist that he is, instead of expressing passion via volume & vocal acrobatics, he's gone for something far better: through tone and articulate intensity.
His voice seems to me to have reached into new places during the intermission (although I saw him play live during the summer at Art in the Park, I couldn't catch his whole set & in any case, I am definitely picking up on this more through listening to the single repeatedly than I managed that afternoon). He seems to be favouring the deeper aspects of it more, which is something of a revelation & to be honest is part of how he carries off the emotional truth so well. I might also say that however star studded his band may be, the production (led by Matt) keeps Jake's voice not only central to the mix but eases the instrumentation right back in places, exposing it & again contributing to the power on display. It does surge from time to time to keep the shifting dynamics going and provide constant interest, but this is another fine example of how to ensure that arrangement and production serve the song rather than show themselves off or in the case of many commercial tracks, seek to cover up the inadequacies of the track. No need for that here: the song stands confidently on its own two feet.
Some people might say that this is Jake's finest song to date. They might also suggest that it's his best performance on record. Well ultimately that's a judgement you will each have to make for yourselves, but I certainly am not prepared to argue with anyone who might make such assessments. It's a glorious slice of uplifting, soulful music which gladdens the heart to hear. Jake is one of those artists who can do this at any time, but I'm happy to go on the record and state my feelings that during his enforced break from playing that he has engaged a new, even higher gear in his art. Since he says he is "beyond proud" with the song, it seems like this may be something he feels himself. Please listen: you'll feel better for doing so I'm sure.
You can see the official video of the single (created by Emilié Cotterill) at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_lDwI_gAII
There is also a nice clip of him performing outside the Tate Modern this week which is very uplifting & you can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/jakerizzomusic/videos/1529867767382705
"Try" and "Leaving" by Jake Rizzo
It is said of several aspects of life that "a week is a long time" within them: to the list we might now add the career of Jake Rizzo.
Merely a week ago I was happily reviewing his debut single "If You Loved Me" for ‘Hot Music Live' while today I find myself doing similarly for his third one, namely "Leaving". In fact, so dynamic is his career at the moment that I am also reviewing the intervening second single "Try" on this occasion: I simply cannot keep up with this excellent artist's exploding career arc.
Taken like their predecessor from Jake's EP, ‘Live at Metropolis Studios' the songs are produced by Matthew Cotterill and feature other musicians Joe Dolman, Harry Green & Matt Townsend: all names which will resonate with ‘Hot Music Live' readers.
Starting with the "older"track, "Try"shares with the first song Jake's essential immediacy & integrity of performance which the live take captures particularly effectively: while flawless in its execution, the manner of its recording managers to inject a sense of spontaneity beyond what a "normal" production might have done & serves to remind us & inform new listeners of his great abilities as a live performer & his capacity to convey "true" emotional content.
A passionate number, more urgent in tone than "If You Loved Me", "Try" showcases Jake's rockingier side & is propelled by energetic playing by his collaborators.
"Leaving", today's offering, dials the heat back down (can one dial heat? Probably not but I hope you get what I'm trying to say), being a gentler number while losing none of the intensity nor commitment to an emotional truth & on this song the musicians brood intensely with the same quality of belief in Jake's music.
Do these three songs connect? I don't know but they sound like they might do. Even as stand alones they tell the world very convincingly of Jake's skill at writing passionate songs & delivering in a way which convince the listener & connect with their hearts.
How long can he keep this work rate up? Am I going to have to write a "Jake Rizzo Release of the Week" column every Sunday morning?... Well I don't mind in the least.
"If You Loved Me" by Jake Rizzo
It is always a great pleasure to review excellent music, but to focus on a debut single is that extra bit special as you feel like a traveller joining someone on the start of what will be a wonderful journey. Mind you, the debut of Jake Rizzo on record is in some ways unusual given the length of time already he has been so highly rated: I first saw him at one of the "Melody Lounge" showcases hosted by Matt Hernandez when he was about 15 & was struck by his precocious talent even then, a skillset he has honed to marvellous effect in the intervening years.
"If You Loved Me" is released today and is billed as "Live At Metropolis Studios". Taking this to mean that it was recorded as a live take, I raise my hat to Jake for the confidence to go with his strength of being a captivating live performer & offering us the immediacy of hearing his song as you would at a gig. And immediate it certainly is. It's like having him in your living room with you playing it just for you. It's really well balanced & produced yet his vocal is the dominant feature in this rather unusually structured song which although a romantic one in theme, drives along with an almost desperate urgency & intensity, driven by clever instrumental additions: skittering guitar, pulsing bass & fierce drumming all are deployed at intervals to raise the emotional temperature higher.
A constant theme among my reviews (you can skip the next bit if you like: you have probably read it before) is that I find it comparatively easy to review music & artists I somehow find "honest" in their approach & craft (please don't ask me to define that too closely: it's an instinctive thing, more my heart than my head doing the work). If I come across someone, however skilled their technique etc may be who I feel is simply going through the motions or showing their skills off to no great purpose, I just pass on a review. That absolutely does not apply to Jake: I have always found one of his great strengths to be this honesty & a commitment to make music of integrity & indeed meaning. You get that admirably with "If You Loved Me", which may well be written about someone, but their identity doesn't matter: as with all good writers, he has applied the specific feelings to a song which could apply universally & so strike a chord with anyone.
The song has only been in the public domain nine hours at the time of writing so it's a bit premature to speculate on sales and airplay but I can't see why both should not be prolific. Jake has already won a substantial fanbase who'll be delighted with the single & is very much on radio radar having built that too over the years he has been perfecting his craft. As a debut & professional career calling card it is ideal & I have no doubt a great deal of thought went into the decisions surrounding it. As I said yesterday in reviewing Joe Dolman's latest single, momentum from this point is the key to ensure any impact of this song, however popular it is right now, doesn't fade in this world when music consumers' memories seem remarkably short term. Expect much more from Jake in the months to come therefore.
Jake Rizzo supported by Henery
Another wonderful night of song writing craft & passionate performances at the Magic Lantern last evening & two more great local musicians who clearly enjoyed themselves as much as the packed & rapt audience clearly did.
Support act Henery was reviewed by me only a few weeks ago at his superb gig at the same venue with Ellie Gowers: always a real problem, or a potential one for a reviewer. However it turned out fine as not only did Henery unleash songs he had not played on the previous occasion (including new ones & ones he has never hitherto performed live) but I noted that the experience of playing solo gigs (as a member of the Ellipsis he of course is extremely experienced at group live work) has impacted on his confidence: he really let his magnificent voice loose this time in a way he hadn't quite before: and it is certainly not a voice to be missed. What is also very evident is how damn good he is as a songwriter: every one of his pieces last night could grace the album he is looking forward to recording: they vary very much in style, tempo & playing technique & each one is instantly memorable. Check Henery out at his page at https://www.facebook.com/heneryuk/
Jake Rizzo (who has performed very many times in our area as Jake Melles in the past) is now based in Guildford so it was great to welcome such a popular member of the scene back for his first concert of original material in Leamington for two years. Switching between a Telecaster & his acoustic, Jake also moved between old favourites and brand new ones (he revealed that he has been recording with Matthew Cotterill: who was another member of last night's audience) plus one interesting cover (the only one of the night: the venue really is seen by artists as one where their originals get the attention they deserve). Like Kristy Gallacher playing a Steely Dan song recently, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is far from the first song which comes to mind in terms of ones to play solo on an acoustic.... Jake has come up from the local open mic scene where I first saw him in his teens & it is wonderful to see what an accomplished, confident & engaging performer he has developed into. And popular too.
Those present loved the evening's entertainment: as with so many of my recent reviews, I find myself coming back to the same points about aspects of our local scene: the abundance of individual styles in performing & writing, with unique voices having the confidence to stick to their own identity, yet with so many of them offering unconditional support to each other & obviously enjoying their friends' talents & success. And no, the evidence doesn't suggest that this happens everywhere unfortunately. Long may it & the artistry of people like Henery & Jake thrive.