Release Date: February 26th 2017
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Jake & Laura– Jake & Laura, Vol. 1- EP (iTunes/Amazon mp3)
- Better Days
- The Road
- The Space In Between Us
- What I Know
- Even Then
- Heart Back Home
It seems that over the last few years, duos have decided to become the next best thing. From the now disbanded City Harbor, the newly formed Grayson Reed, Love & The Outcome, Jenny & Tyler, for KING AND COUNTRY, Shane and Shane and Brad + Rebekah, to Brooke + Boggs, Jonathan and Melissa Helser, Bryan and Katie Torwalt, Out of the Dust, Seth & Nirva, and Austin and Lindsey Adamec; there seems to be an over-saturation of duos in an industry, where often, identity could be lost in a sea of music groups, duos, and artists, that often, though not intentionally, sound the same. However, each duo does have its place, which brings me to this- another duo has recently released their debut EP (Jake & Laura) at the end of February 2017, and while I don’t really know much about them as a music duo, I have enjoyed their debut EP. While it isn’t necessarily ground-breaking musically, the EP does have heart, emotion and passion, something that can be at times void within the CCM industry. Finding this EP by accident via a post on NewReleaseToday not too long ago, I decided to listen to samples on iTunes. Hearing these two sing I was certain that their EP would increase their popularity, and hopefully in the next few months, they will be noticed for the talent that they are. Similar musically to Love & The Outcome and JJ Heller, the acoustically driven duo offer simple harmonies and pop-worship songs that encourage us to sing praises to our Lord in such a turbulent time globally. A must have, if you enjoy music from Love & The Outcome, or lead singer Tricia Brock’s solo material (of the now defunct Superchick), Jake & Laura Vol. 1: EP is 6 songs of underrated goodness, as this EP becomes one of the most welcome surprises of 2017 thus far!
Immediately when hearing this EP, my ears and eyes gravitated towards the duo’s cover version of “What I Know”, originally written and recorded by Tricia (lead singer of the now defunct Superchick). Sandwiched in the middle in a 6 track set list, this song brings me a lot of nostalgia as I reflect upon Superchick, Tricia Brock (who I think isn’t pursuing music at the moment) and the whole era of female fronted pop-rock, whose genre right now is currently lacking, with the departure of Superchick, BarlowGirl and ZOEgirl within the last decade or so, leaving the CCM industry full of male dominated groups (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that there seemed to be more of a diversity stylistically yesteryear compared to now). So I guess if this version of “What I Know” sung entirely by Laura evokes within me a longing for music to return to the days of when groups were uniquely defined rather than currently similar in virtually all ways we can possibly think of, then I guess this recording on the album is a good thing. Jake and Laura, though independent, have such an unbridled passion and enthusiasm that is captured, not only in “What I Know” but throughout the EP as a whole; that we are reminded that you don’t necessarily have to be signed, in order to create quality music with a purpose. In fact, often times when an artist signs to a label, when they have already created music independently, their forthcoming albums tend to be more polished, refined, even more studio production heavy, compared to what often indie music feels like it ought to be- raw, honest, fresh, real, hopeful, encouraging, everything that, quite sadly, radio friendly songs aren’t.
Still, “What I Know” is a testament that an indie artist can take a song recorded by an artist on a label, and make it their own. “What I Know” is indeed a song about assurance, or rather, to trust in a time of uncertainty. We all know that feelings don’t determine what we believe, so this song carries with it that particular message and weight, that ‘…what I know is You my God are real, no matter how I feel, You’ve never let me go, and what I know is there will never be a day You aren’t just a breath away, and through it all I’ve gotta hold to what I know…’ Gone is the piano that is prominent in the original recording, as this new version brings together light electric guitars, still a light piano presence, alongside light percussion to present to the fore a song that is more of an anthem that takes on a whole new meaning for me personally than Tricia’s version. To be honest, I hadn’t really listened to the song “What I Know” prior to this year- sure I listened to it when I reviewed Tricia’s album Radiate back in 2013, but I only heard that song once or twice.
Now coming into this rendition, I listened, again and again, and let the words minister. This is a song that states the fact- that what we feel does not determine what is true. That what is true will continue to be true in spite of how we feel, which is this, that God is real, that He is close, near and comforting to those who long for it. A song that has made me revisit Radiate, “What I Know”, upon reflection, is perhaps one of my favourite songs on Radiate and I didn’t even know it. Laura does the song justice and then some, as this indie duo forges to become one of the most talented and under-the-radar duos I’ve heard this year so far!
Throughout the rest of the EP, we are presented with much more of an acoustical framework as originally written songs highlight the rest of the duo’s catalogue, with both Jake and Laura trading moments where they are leading individual songs (or even parts of a song). “Better Days” envisages a happy-go-lucky mood as Laura channels either Tricia or Francesca Battistelli (or even both) as we as listeners are presented with such a message as this- that we can’t wait around for better days to come on the hope that God will weave together the circumstances that we face for His will to occur. Sure we know that better days will come if we are in Christ, yet often trusting everything to God without doing our own part being proactive in what we are to undertake can be a dangerous thing. We aren’t meant to sit on our laurels expecting great things from God to drop in our lap, because that is ‘the plan’- so “Better Days” is a reminder, that ‘…I won’t wait for the better days, for it all to turn around and go my way, it takes more than just some twist of fate, we can write our own story, and what I want mine to say is I didn’t wait around for better days…’ “The Road” continues alongside the tightrope that is between the genres of acoustic and radio-friendly worship as both Jake and Laura invite us to journey alongside them in a song full of lyrical metaphors, that we as believers, or even as humans, have a road to travel upon- between who we are and who we long to become, and what we want our dreams to be. “The Road” shows a moment where both singers imply, that the journey won’t be as smooth sailing as we initially think- and that is ok. Both “Better Days” and “The Road” encourage us to forge our own path for the future, knowing that any decision we make will in fact be weaved together by the Lord for His glory and our own personal good, no matter how tragic it could seem at that moment.
“The Space In Between” allows Jake to channel to listeners a little bit of Jon Guerra as the pace and tempo of the song slows to more of an acoustic ‘waltz’- as we have a glimpse into the message behind such a song- that a space in between relationships is only that way because of miscommunication and different expectations, and will only be settled if there is grace enough for us all to be humble, humble to acknowledge our own parts in such a relationship failing, and a longing for us to change and become better people because of such difficulties and circumstances. Jake then takes the helm at the EP closer “Heart Back Home”, a piano prominent prayerful worship moment as we are met with a message as pivotal and poignant as this- that God’s love is restless, that His reach is far and wide as Jesus calls our wandering hearts back home to Himself; while it is the emotive and compelling song “Even Then” that is a highlight of Jake and Laura’s (alongside the cover “What I Know”).
“Even Then” is quite possibly one of the most acoustic songs I’ve heard on the EP, as Laura and Jake in turns vulnerably invite us to partake in the message of how we all need to understand, that even then, even in the moments where we believe that God’s love cannot reach, He is still reaching out, beckoning us to come follow Him and stop believing the lie that God’s love has limitations. “Even Then” is also similar thematically to Nichole Nordeman’s song of the same name (as well as Micah Tyler’s song of the same name, for that matter), as all these three songs convey the same truth, that even in the impossible situations, God’s love covers all of that. Well done to both Jake and Laura for such a melody that is needed in society, as well as it being encouraging for those who hear the song.
‘…newcomers Jake & Laura are already making their mark on the Christian music scene. Having just released their new EP, “Vol. 1”, (Produced by Grammy nominated songwriter, Aaron Rice) Jake & Laura hit the TOP 40 on the Christian iTunes Charts. The strength of this new duo is apparent in their powerful songwriting and soulful/pop style…’ This quote above were the few sentences used to describe Jake and Laura and their EP, in the about section of their website. And while it may take a while for this duo to be fully recognised for the talent they already have, this 6 song EP is enough for me as a reviewer to say that this duo is quite possibly one of the most underrated duo/group/solo artist I’ve heard since indie artists Naomi Striemer and Meredith Kinleigh a few years ago. Jake and Laura have a presence about them that is compelling and heartfelt, and while I don’t think they are married, their camaraderie and ability to harmonise with one another is as infectious as it is needed in an industry where many duos are either husband-wife or siblings. Rarely do we see a duo where both parties are unrelated to one another (except All Sons and Daughters)… who knows, maybe Jake and Laura will become the new ASAD in the future? Vol. 1 suggests a Vol. 2 in the works, so therefore, pick up this new EP ASAP, because Jake and Laura are here to stay. Well done guys for such an impacting EP, can’t wait to Vol. 2 whenever it arises!
3 songs to listen to: What I Know, Even Then, Heart Back Home
RIYL: Tricia Brock, Love & The Outcome, City Harbor, Grayson Reed, Mikeschair