This sophomore effort by Chicago’s Jake La Botz (with producer/bass & guitarist Jimmy Sutton) drops Oct 18th.It’s a 12-track Hi-Style Records’ LP. Resplendent storytelling, street tales, juke joint humid air & a pinch of unusual twists.
After a period of drug addiction, Jake emerges to cook bristling, sympathetic sounds with renewed vigor, creativity from hard times. No tedium or formula-writing. It’s simply worth hearing because he’s not dressed in the threads of expectancy.
Opening with an unflinching title tune “They’re Coming For Me,” Jake takes a spoonful of style from the well of Greg Copeland (“Revenge Will Come”), Canada’s deep-voiced Junkhouse — vocalist Tom Wilson (“Shine”) & Buddy Miller. Voices from a bed of conviction, sensitivity & persuasion. Jake – he’s about to hog the blankets.
With a tight band of Jimmy Sutton, Alex Hall (drums, keyboards, vocals), Scott Ligon (guitar, keyboards, vocals), JD McPherson (backing vocals – “The Bankrobber’s Lament”), & drummer George Stuppick, who adds backing vocals to “This Comb,” La Botz songs are compelling.
Jake doesn’t possess an intimidating vocal-like Tom Wilson, but he’s reminiscent vocally early-on of Moon Martin, Dave Edmunds, & Nick Lowe. Melodic, world-weary, streetwise & brawny. The guitar intricacies of “Johnnybag the Superglue,” (great title) is refreshing. “Without the Weight,” has the 60s spatial infectious melody. Botz’s lyrics are beautifully creative. Stripped down a notch from Tom Waits & Chuck E Weiss.
There’s a John Hiatt feel to “The Bankrobber’s Lament.” This gallops along & blows on the neck of John Prine. Good alt-country & the music has the necessary kick & cohesion to perk up ears.
Is this contemporary enough? Not sure. I don’t think country radio embraces this but FM college rock – yes. I’m a lyric man & appreciate these words as married to the music. It’s riveting. Some tunes will take more than one listen but that’s the pleasure.
“Hey Bigfoot,” & “The Terrible Game,” finds Jake in a fine Dr. John / Eugene McDaniel’s (“Headless Horsemen of the Apocalypse”) voice with voodoo piano spread thick. Anyone who can fit Episcopalian into a lyric is high on my list. This treads novelty but it’s so well-written & performed it isn’t. But Jake’s sense of humor is rich.
The Buddy Miller comparison & songwriting wealth surfaces in “Grace of the Leaves,” “Nashville, Nashville,” & the Tom Wilson deep vocal ignites in “Are We Saying Goodbye?” Jake has a smooth fabric of talent & despite my resemblances, there’s plenty of originality in Jake’s showcase.
“Redemption follows regret taking in the hurt,” is a line only someone who experienced it could tell.
The last 2 tracks on this 43-minute LP are a bonus. They’re a finger into the blues. Yes, it’s a retro sound but that’s what you need to maintain authenticity. Dirty guitar runs, & dark-hued Blasters vocals tabasco hot. These are sizzlers. https://www.jakelabotz.com/#home-section