Review Summary: A man and his guitar crafts one of the most emotional and lyrically brilliant albums of the year.
Front Porch Step is the name given for Jake Mcelfresh’s solo project. With his debut full-length, Jake is able to write 11 consistently great songs that deal with life’s problems. Love and loss seems to be what his life has been all about.
The first thing noticeable in the songs is the brutal honesty portrayed in the fantastic lyrics and Jake’s engaging voice. His emotion in bringing his words to life for the listener is a joy to behold as he gives his everything in each song. Angels and Demons really gets the album going with the first few lines of lyrics setting the tone. None more so than: ‘’I think l could die a thousand deaths and still turn out just fine if l could see your face ever y day of my life’’ The pure emotion and honesty in each song really drives the point home that Jake is a frustrated man unsure of what his future has in store for him.
In ‘’Drown’’ he sings of a lost love, and how he’s mentally drowning. A highlight of the album which contains clever lyrics: ‘’Well i’m so tired of the rain, falling softly on the ground, just enough to get my feet wet, but not enough to let me drown’’ Drown also contains a very clever Johnny Cash reference which is really well done. My absolute highlight of this album is ‘’If I Tremble’’ a truly brilliant song where Jake sings of a woman who means the world to him, and wonders how someone so brilliant, could be so torn apart. The chorus is my favourite part of the album:
‘’If I Tremble at the sight of you, it’s not because i’m cold, it’s because i’m staring at the girl l want to love me when i’m old’’
The pure honesty and emotion conveyed in each song is really what makes this a brilliant album. The guitar playing is also soft and really sets the tone for each song. Upbeat songs like ‘’Run Away’’ and ‘’ Island of the Misfit Boy’’ contain some aggressive guitar playing, while the more sombre songs are soft, and well put together. ‘’Private Fears in Public Places’’ contains an aggressive gravelly voice, but he follows it up with a really nice high to end the verse. His voice is versatile and he adapts his different tones to each song really well.
Another brilliant part to this album is its variety. Jake adapts difference facets to each song to make them unique. Songs like ‘’Lullaby’’ and ‘’Run Away’’ are so different to every other song on the album and are great in their own way. Lullaby is sung in a softer tone, while Run Away is more upbeat and a stronger voice is used. His adaptability to each song is what really sets him apart from other artists.
Album closer ‘’I Won’t Say That I’m Okay’’ is one of the most emotional, yet beautiful songs I’ve ever listened too. A ballad for Jake’s grandmother who has passed away recently and contains a spoken passage at the end which really drives home the emotional side of the song. A song that my words don’t do any justice to.
There are no real brilliant guitar passages, but there doesn’t need to be, as Jake’s voice is so engaging. The guitar is an important facet to the sound, but there are times of the album where you are solely focused on the voice, and the guitar just sets a brilliant tone to each song. His conveying of lyrics and how he is able to say what he wants to say to his audience, and how the listener can interpret the lyrics and compare them to a part of their life is something really special. The relateability of the lyrics is another strong element to this album that cannot be ignored. I’m sure many of us can relate to some of the truly great lyrics Jake has penned down.
My words don’t really do justice to this brilliant acoustic album. I was blown away at how on first listen Jake seems to take a simplistic take on life, but with each listen, the song gets more complicated and its ability to take the listener on a unique journey into the confides of his mind and how you can relate those lyrics to a facet of our own lives.
Listen to this album with an open mind, and you may just find that Jake has put out 11 songs that we can all cherish and say: ‘’I know how he feels’’.