Perhaps I am biased towards artists who play the piano. I am a devoted Tori Amos fan, and my music collection is dominated by performers such as Elton John, Coldplay, Duncan Shiek, Alicia Keys and Gregory Douglass, who break the stereotypical rock star guitar-toting image by expressing themselves with the piano. Brian Jacobs ’02 is the newest addition to my collection.
Jacobs is an honors music major who has been playing the piano and composing since he was 12. During my interview with Jacobs, he articulated how, “music has always been something for which I’ve had a strong passion.” I was impressed to find out that Jacobs produced and recorded the CD himself. He used a Bsendorfer (a high-quality piano produced in Vienna) to record “Two Faces” and practices religiously with this brand of piano.
On “Two Faces,” Jacobs utilizes strings and drums for background effects. Violin, cello and bass seem to be dying instruments in a music world inundated by alternative, indie and rock guitar riffs. Only quirky artists such as Bjrk realize the richness that strings add to music. Jacobs, too, understands this and has chosen a string quartet and oboe for accompaniment on his album. What also makes “Two Faces” unique is the audio clips from the news, ocean and crowds that Jacobs integrates in some songs to, as Jacobs said, “give the songs more life.”
Jacobs harmonizes perfectly with the notes on the piano. His skill in singing is so natural that his words roll out with ease. He never strains to hold a note.
Jacobs cites Bjrk, Paula Cole and REM as having major influences on his music.
Jacobs, though, maintains his own style, which is a constant circularity in each piece as if he wishes to imitate the sounds of rolling waves onto a shore. The song “Poseidon” exemplifies this style. I can almost imagine Jacobs on the coastal cliffs of Ireland, playing a piano settled in the high grass.
“Oxygen” uses a staccato sound on the fortepiano that juxtaposes with the rising and falling tone of Jacobs’ lyrics. “Two Faces” also uses this surging effect along with words that express the sentiments of a young man in his early twenties. While listening to the album, though, it was never the lyrics that struck me as much as the relaxing harmony of Jacobs’ music and voice.
Brian Jacobs’ first album, “Untie Me,” distributed in 2001, earned him the title “Best New Artist of the Year” from Jam Music Magazine.
Following graduation, Jacobs will spend a year in France to study music and teach English. Jacobs has many goals that revolve around music and has decided to devote much of his future to experimentation with instruments and sounds for prospective albums.
“I feel like I’ve taken a big step from my first CD to my second, but there are still so many other possibilities to explore,” Jacobs said. Considering this statement combined with the talent of this young protg, Jacobs is one to watch.
Brian Jacobs will celebrate the release of “Two Faces” tomorrow evening with a performance at 8 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium.