Review Summary: I heard you...
If there’s one thing that I like about folk music it’s that it has this inherent ability to sound really sad really easily. I can’t explain why, but if I start listing off my favorite folk records they’re all really dark and depressing. Now, to be fair, I haven’t heard that
many, but there just is something wistful about a man and a guitar. If anything, Jeff Jacquay almost takes this too far on his debut LP. It almost sounds too desolate, too detached, too distant. Nonetheless, despite his constant morose sound, Jacquay has crafted a strangely lively album. Quick paced and short at 35 minutes, La Cambria is a briskly lo-fi emotive experience.
Jacquay’s voice is rarely more than a whisper, but easily rises above his soft guitar picking. Acoustic guitar mostly drives La Cambria, although muted electric guitars do come in to play with some frequency, as well as some drums and cymbal crashes. Jacquay’s capabilities as a songwriter are immediately apparent on stand out “World’s Record Trophy,” by far the most dynamic track on the album. Much of the album consists of remarkably simple, yet effective melodies. A decent chunk of the record is instrumental, although the instrumentals are brief in length and seem perfectly fitting with Jacquay’s vocals. Intimate textures and samples are used effectively throughout the album (a plane flying overhead, a voicemail, etc.), further emphasizing La Cambria’s overall atmosphere. In fact, that might be Jacquay’s greatest strength--not necessarily in the songs themselves individually, as they are almost too simplistic for their own good, but in his incredible focus and knack for subtlety.
La Cambria is an album destined to go under the radar. It almost completely fails to say anything outwardly, preferring to keep to itself in the corner, playing sad songs by itself. It’s almost as if Jacquay didn’t want it to be heard and made the album for himself rather than for anyone else. Still, for those that take the time, listeners will find that it is an unquestionably consistent, charming, and heartwarming release. Prepare for some downbeat tunes, folks.