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You Call That Dark

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Album Review

On her fourth full-length, singer/songwriter Kate Jacobs wraps her twee, plaintive voice around 13 new songs, 12 of which she wrote, one of which she borrowed the lyrics from William Shakespeare. Produced by Dave Schramm, who also handles most of the guitar chores here, You Call That Dark might be called a continuation of the literate, pop Americana evidenced on her earlier records, particularly 1998's Hydrangea. You Call That Dark was six years in the making; during that time, Jacobs got married, had children, and engaged life in the biggest ways possible as a result. The people who tell their stories, or tell them to Jacobs, are the people you live with in families, in relationships, that you grew up with and/or encounter in the supermarket or drugstore. They offer all manner paradox such as in "Helen Has a House," "Your Big Sister," "The Silent Hills," and "Let Dusty Be Your Guide," and "I Walk in Fear." With pianos, guitars, violins, clarinets, organs, xylophones, and bass and drums, of course, Jacobs offers not slices of lives, but entire lives lived in the gaps between perceptions of reality and desire. She finds them much as they are, whether they accept it or not. The dull ache in the grain of her voice is a wish that these people, who are all her and us, could just accept life on its own terms and move on into their destiny, no matter how small or great. The great tenderness and empathy in these songs is a gift to the listener. Jacobs and her collaborators aren't interested in morals or lessons, just in the telling of stories that would otherwise go untold, let alone unheard. You Call That Dark is not overly precious, but it is a record by a songwriter with a remarkable sense of equanimity when it comes to her protagonists, and with a heart that is large enough to hold a space for all of these characters, come what may. You Call That Dark is, in its quiet yet unflinching way, simply stunning.


Born: 11 January 1959 in Virginia

Genre: Fiction & Literature

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Guitarist, singer and songwriter Kate Jacobs has an angelic voice and a unique gift for inventing characters and telling stories within the format of the four-minute song. Jacobs was born in Virginia but lived around the world in her youth, as her father worked as a diplomat. At the Unitarian Church in Virginia, Jacobs and her sisters learned civil rights marching songs, many of which were variations on old gospel traditionals. Jacobs cites such early influences as Elizabeth Cotten and Pete Seeger,...
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You Call That Dark, Kate Jacobs
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