Jake Ybarra

REVIEW: Jake Ybarra “Something in the Water”


Jake Ybarra – Something In the Water

This debut 10-track CD by 25-year-old South Carolina-based singer-songwriter & Texas-born Jake Ybarra (acoustic guitar) pronounced (e-BAR-a) was recorded in Nashville. The songs are inspired in a realm occupied by artists like Lucinda Williams, John Prine, Townes van Zandt, Guy Clark & James McMurtry.

Produced by William Gawley Something In the Water (Drops April 7–CEN/Charlotte Ave Entertainment/ The Orchid) features musicians with impressive musical resumes since each backed many major country artists. Ybarra’s warm baritone works well on each tune & it makes his repertoire of storylines incisive.

Jake doesn’t mind tackling topics other songwriters seldom bother with unless they’re Leonard Cohen. What’s interesting is that he has just enough twang to his voice to be genuinely country yet, a jaunty tone that rollicks with countrified rock underpinnings. “Late November” has energy & melody while the roots-rock of “BloodFire,” never strays from rural gutsiness.

My country-type of music is Steve Earle, but Jake Ybarra is fast becoming a fascination. He knows how to adorn some songs that have a curvy guitar-driven anatomy. “A Whole Lot To Remember,” as simple as it is has a strutting impulsive pop to it. He never overreaches with showboating. They’re all danceable & while they may not be true 50s rockabilly it does have the flavor.

An uneasy romance comes in “Long Winter,” with its spirited mandolin poking itself into the melody emphasized by good percussion. Jake has a good narrative voice. As it progresses an accordion fleshes out the beauty of the tune. I listen to the lyrics & these words are quite good.

There are serious ballads sung with confidence, sincerity & with a subtle approach. “Call Me By My Name,” is excellent. Different. This is where creativity meets originality & the instrumentation is light with no embellishments. Each song is inhabited by its own character. If James Taylor went country he’d be Jake Ybarra.

“Something In the Water,” has impressive picking & again the words are expressive. Jake has an acute perspective on how his country music should reach maturity. As each song progresses none get bogged down. There’s just enough personal emphasis without saccharine preachiness. Some songs work better than others, but some may just take repeated listens. There’s an excellent piano on “Silly Little Things,” that concludes the album. It’s a satisfying collection.

The CD package has earthy pastel tone images & the inner panels are B&W images. A lyric insert would have been a good addition.

Highlights -“Late November,” “BloodFire,” “A Whole Lot To Remember,” “Long Winter,” “Call Me By My Name,” “Something In the Water,” “Disappear,” “No Reason or Right” & “Silly Little Things.”

Musicians – David Flint (acoustic & electric guitar/mandolin), Dow Tomlin (bass), Dane Bryant (piano/organ/keys) & Billy Thomas (drums/backing vocals).

Cover photo courtesy of Charlotte Ave Pictures & cover design by Cassidy Bell.

CD @ Amazon & https://www.jakeybarra.com/

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