I’m going to cut straight to the chase and say that Jacob Collier is bloody incredible. The young UK artist seems to be able to play everything, and he does so incredibly well and craftily. Only a couple of years older than me, Collier’s fusion of sounds is so beyond his years, that I can’t possibly imagine what’s next for this young superstar.
Collier released his debut album In My Room on July 1st this year, and it sure is spicy. Having listened to a mere 30 second snippet of opening track ‘Woke Up Today’, I knew to brace myself for an incredible album. I knew to expect tight harmonies and incredible arrangements, but Collier demonstrates so much sophistication with his fusion of funk, jazz, acapella vocal style and soul genres. Collier doesn’t stop there in this track, however, adding his characteristic melodica improvised solo. The track is busy, energetic and very exciting, and certainly played its role in hooking me into the album.
The next track ‘In My Room’ has really grown on me the last couple of days, with its slow 12 8 feel and simple melodic material. A cover of the Beach Boys, Collier’s mesmerising harmonic vocabulary is breathtaking throughout the track, earning its place as my favourite song of the album. Even the delicate piano solo is seemingly so simple, yet seems so interesting as Collier meanders across the gorgeous vocal accompaniment.
Collier doesn’t stop with just covering the Beach Boys, but also covers Stevie Wonder’s “You and I” and famous TV-show theme ‘Flinstones’. The former is performed entirely acappella, and yet he creates such fantastic sound colour with his intonation and articulation that it could be an orchestra of so many sound possibilities performing under the melody. Collier only enhances this incredible performance with his engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable harmonic arrangement.
Collier’s arrangement of ‘Flinstones’ is also magnificent, with his rhythmic displacements and jazz harmonic vocabulary. Collier pulls out the melodica again for a solo, and his fortepiano at about 1:40 makes me smile literally every time I listen to this song. It is unbelievable to think that this young individual has constructed this entire album single-handedly.
‘Down The Line’ and ‘Hajanga’ are delightful numbers with their gorgeous melodies and instrumentation exploration. In contrast, ‘Saviour’ is a funky tune, with its grooving bass line and chunky piano accompaniment. I still find myself humming the chorus riff wherever I go. For those of you who are looking for something more delicate, ‘In the Real Early Morning’ barely missed out on my favourite track of the album. After having my mind blown by the prior hectic tracks, this one really provided some much needed breathing space, with literally moments of silence between each heartfelt line. Collier sings “alone” (ie. without his dense harmonic passages) and it really makes the album as incredible as I believe it is.
Unfortunately, I have failed to connect with ‘Hideaway’, but I would not say it is a weak song. The arrangement is gorgeous and its incredible fusion of various plucked strings and untuned percussion creates such a fantastic unique sound that is truly impossible to label. It just didn’t click with me, and I find myself skipping that track more than I wish I did.
I think there is no point denying that Jacob Collier is a superstar and definitely deserves the music world’s spotlight. This album is truly a must have for anyone looking for emerging young talent that fuses all the jazz greats with Matt Corby, Pentatonix and Earth, Wind & Fire. I am now super excited to see if Jacob will expand any tours to Australia, because this man is a prodigy we do not get often.
Jared loves to share his passion for music and artists through music reviews and commentaries. These include a selection of reviews written for community radio stations 3MBS and Radio Monash.