Cris Jacobs: Color Where You Are (Blue Rose Music)
Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Local Baltimore hero Cris Jacobs is at it again. This is his follow up to Dust To Gold. I can’t believe it has been two and a half years since Cris’s last release. I honestly thought is was about a year. That gives you all some indication about my incredible ability to underestimate time. A sign of getting older, I guess. I must say , the sound of Color Where You Are is done in a very similar style to Dust To Gold. This current offering may be even more understated than the last one.
I like the pace and levels of Color Where You Are. It is a very easy listen with a plethora of beautiful sound waves crashing throughout the entire 45 minute collection. Style wise, it is somewhere between Mississippi John Hurt, Little Feat, Bruce Hornsby and JJ Cale. A little country and a little rock and roll. Maybe some delta blues and folk thrown is to round out the pot. You may read a lot of albums that mix many styles as a “gumbo”. I would definitely classify this one as a gumbo. A mixture of many ingredients that once assembled, create an entirely unique product.
Cris has has a good run over the past couple of years. He is definitely getting a lot of recognition out of the Baltimore/DC metro area. We have known how talented Cris is for years now. It’s time for the rest of the world to find out just how good Cris and the band are. And as good as they are on the album, they are even better live. Cris has a stage presence that is large. He definitely holds his own whether he is playing in front of a few hundred people or playing in front of multiple thousands of fans as he did last year at Anthem when he opened the show for Sturgill Simpson and Willie Nelson. That is some pretty esteemed company. I wonder if Cris spent any time on Willie’s tour bus after the show. I will have to ask him that.
Talk about some understated energy, listen no further than Rooster Coop (Track 6). Lowell George would be loving this if he were alive today. This song definitely pays homage to the great Mr. George, who just had a birthday on April 13th. Coincidence? I think not. The number starts out with some mid tempo funk and slide that is right down my parkway. It’s almost as if the song is hiding something. It’s trying to keep the lid on the energy that is effervescing all over. I keep waiting for the whole thing to go into total chaos, but Cris is a pro and he and the band know how to get the most out of the sound and the chemistry without losing control.
I mentioned the influence of the blues from the Mississippi Delta. Cris and the crack band are all students of the blues and used those acoustic blues riffs to create a mood that takes the listener to a far away place where the river is in charge. Buffalo Girl (Track 3) begins like a song from John Hurt or Furry Lewis. It quickly morphs into a a slower rock number when the other instruments are added to the mix. I absolutely love the sound and vibe of this song. Not only is played brilliantly, but the lyrics and vocals work so well together.
I have pined for years that a legitimate band or artist will come from Baltimore and we got ’em. Yes, we don’t have to look any further than Cris Jacobs, a local boy who made it to the top. We don’t have to wish anymore. Let’s live in the moment and support our local hero.