There are only 26 letters in the English language and only 12 notes in the Western scale, and every time I hear of another new Nashville artist, I’m curious to see if they can arrange these figures in a way that shares a story that hasn’t already been told. Jake McMullen can, and his debut EP, Always, is but the first chapter of his narrative. The Orange County native appropriately moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting, and his first product since the relocation has that lived-in quality that this region seems to inherently possess. Texturing his old-soul lyrics with sweeping melodies, acoustic strums and steel rings, Jake has carefully, but honestly, articulated his first-person character in a way that allows you to find coextensive qualities in your own story. There is an openness in his songs, a kind of hollowness that doesn’t seek fulfillment and one that lives in the body of his guitar and the thick of his voice. The title track is the appropriate exposition, blending falsetto diversions into the cool tones of the music, beautifully focusing on the aching pairing of melody and lyric. And after a taste of Jake‘s storytelling in “Always,” each song to follow is like the turn of a page, and one you want to make. “If I Go” is rippled with moments of chordal surges, and “I Don’t Wanna Wake Up” is rhythmically hypnotic. Finishing the EP with “Home,” this song is the appropriate pause for this moment in his just-started chronicle.
Always is a four-track prelude of what is to come from Jake McMullen, so have a listen to his debut below, and head on over to the Basement East next Thursday, October 22, for the release show.