Perhaps not since Elton John’s 1970 classic Tumbleweed Connection has a British artist so artfully and dynamically embraced country/Americana and the enduring mystique of the Old West as Jake Aaron does on his compelling, multi-genre influenced collection Always Seeking.
The long-awaited follow-up to the insightful singer/songwriter and versatile guitarist’s critically acclaimed 2019 debut Fag Ash and Beer – nominated for Debut Album of the Year by UK indie tastemaker Fatea Magazine – the 14 track set is, by Aaron’s own admission, loosely imagined as a noir Western. It's a deeply visual and powerfully cinematic journey featuring an ever-shifting landscape, multiple scenes and moods expressed with a blend of fascinating vocals and instrumentals and featuring exciting contributions by numerous guest artists, including singer Kate Kurdyak (of Canadian noir-pop band Vox Rea), trumpeter Steve Waterman and electric guitarist John Etheridge.
In an era where even epic indie recordings like this are largely consumed digitally, Aaron takes the bold step of contracting renowned Brooklyn based illustrator Anthony Macbain to create vintage-styled artwork of a female rider on a ridge, guitar slung over her shoulder. looking out into a bare desert landscape. We can only imagine the thoughts simmering in her mind as Aaron launches the set with the gentle acoustic strum of “Canyon” before showcasing his rock and roll vocal bona-fides on the inspirational, blues-infused traveling jam “Gotta Believe.”
From there, it’s a stylistically freewheeling but thematically focused narrative about exploration and discovery that takes us from the ominous rumbling instrumental “Four Coaches” and the raw acoustic plucker “Lupe’s Theme” (featuring the beautiful harmonies of Aaron and Kurdyak) to the visceral tribal interlude “Parnell’s Last Stand” (featuring drummer Marc Parnell), the wistful, trumpet laced lament “Leave The Light On” and the old-timey piano romp “Lodder’s Lurch.” Later highlights include what is perhaps the true heart and soul of Always Seeking, the jazzy-blues-funk rock vocal “The Revenant,” featuring Steve Lodder’s trippy electric piano and two fiery electric guitar solos by Etheridge; and “The Crossing,” presented first as an easy grooving, organ and orchestral driven “Main Theme” and later as a gentle solo piano piece.
Aaron wraps the excursion with a hard-hitting, jazz trumpet-laced reminder that as an artist and creative explorer, he is indeed “Always Seeking.” Though Macbain’s original image of the girl on the horse is included in the CD as a fold-out poster, Aaron is hoping to do some vinyl pressings of the album to give the album and its artwork an even more expansive mode of expression.