Album Reviews

Cris Jacobs

Dust to Gold

Artist:     Cris Jacobs

Album:     Dust to Gold

Label:     American Showplace

Release Date:     10/21/2016

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Cris Jacobs first came to my attention five years ago as the frontman for the Baltimore-based group, the Bridge. This is his second solo effort, and marks his debut for American Showplace, a strong emerging label for roots and blues. Jacobs is one of those triple threats– singer, songwriter and guitarist– blessed with a deep, soulful voice and able to traverse a number of genres. Along the way he has impressed various artists. Steve Winwood invited Jacobs to open his 2014 tour. Sturgill Simpson followed suit a year later. Recently Jacobs and New Orleans keyboardist, Ivan Neville, recorded a collaborative album called Neville Jacobs that will be released next year. Last year, Jacobs played prominently on his label mate, John Ginty’s, album, No Filter. Ginty returns the favor here, playing an array of keyboards in a tight four member unit with bassist Todd Herrington and drummer Dusty Ray Simmons.

The dozen tunes were all penned or co-penned by Jacobs. The single, “Turn Into Gold,” is a slow burning slide guitar rocker where Jacobs talks about channeling the muse. He gives some insight into his motivation as an artist, “if I’m playing or singing and I’m really connected to that source, and I’m really locked in and there’s a room full of people experiencing that, the hope is then for them to get locked into their own thing, and it’s this beautiful, ecstatic magic that happens. To me, this is that elusive goal that I chase every time I sit down to write a song or every time I get on stage to perform.”

Other notable tracks include “Cold Carolina,” which perhaps best showcases his vocals as he pleads about a despondent relationship. In “Little Dreamer,” his wife, Kat, joins on vocals as they sing to their not yet born child, whom he discovered was on the way only moments before starting to make the album. “Delivery Man” is a syncopated soul romp. “Hallelujah Hustler” has touches of gospel, “Shine Your Weary Light” features nice dobro and “Leaving Charm City” is the perfect meditative closer. Yes, it’s an eclectic record with a rich sound and plenty of strong, thoughtful moments, all with an underpinning of expressive guitar work. Jacobs is already a formidable artist who is still evolving.

Jacobs will be touring the album. Here are some key stops:
11/3 at the Sellersville Theater, Sellersville, PA
11/4 Gypsy Sally’s, Washington D.C.
11/7 Eddie’s Attic, Atlanta, GA
12/2 Ardmore Music Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Amy Helm will join him on 11/3 and 11/4. Marc Ford joins on 11/17. Visit www.crisjacobs.com for all tour dates.

-Jim Hynes

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