Synthesizers come into focus with a piercing melody as we dive into the opening track of Jaco’s new album You Know, “On the Ground,” and after a tension-building introduction marred in discordant drumming and melancholic instrumental moans, a white-hot riff enters the picture and brings with it a steady rhythm. It isn’t until we’re in the throes of “For Myself” that we start to see what sort of harmonious treasures You Know has planned for us in its tracklist, as this pleasant pop tune imparts some of the most dynamically glowing vocals of any I’ve heard this season. “Blackboard” shifts the music towards a decidedly heavy rock trajectory, but by this point, we’re already deep in the tread of Jaco’s relentless string of grooves.
“Lavabo” blasts out of the silence like a stampede of wild buffalo, trampling over anything that gets in the path of its colossal bassline and adjoining percussive stomp. It’s not nearly as efficient in structure as “I Don’t Mind” is, but it doesn’t have to be; with riffs like these, a little bit of indulgence every now and again is welcomed by those with a real taste for good rock n’ roll. “Say Goodbye” continues the rainy, Seattle-style alternative rock of “I Don’t Mind,” but tosses in a dash of contemporary rebelliousness just for good measure. The rhythm in this track is exceptionally hypnotic, and though the guitar theatrics at the top of the mix are inspired, they’re not the main focus in this piece; that title easily goes to the devastatingly handsome drumming.
Jaco launches into “Shoe” with a superbly surreal riff that sounds hauntingly reminiscent of Overwhelming Colorfast, but there’s nothing recycled about its vortex of exquisite (though thoroughly eccentric) harmonies. “Reservoir” is pretty straight-up and simple when juxtaposed with the two tracks it sits beside, but then again, when we compare most songs to a composition like “Your Way,” they’re going to come out looking a little barebones by design. “Your Way,” from my perspective, is the sonic crown jewel of You Know; it epitomizes the direction that Jaco is going in here without overstating the theme of the music. There’s a psychedelic undertow, punky lack of frills, pop chops beneath it all – a proven recipe for success, in my experience at least.
“Again” slides in between “Your Way” and You Know’s grand finale, “All Your Love,” and though it’s got a really sweet blues riff, it translates as more of a vocal spotlight than an instrumental one. As “All Your Love” rescinds into the darkness amidst an array of chilling vocal melodies and the album comes to a conclusion, it’s hard to think about what we’ve just listened to without seeing things from the perspective of the songwriter responsible for it all. Jake Waitzman has come a long way in his career, and I think that he picked the perfect time to get started on this new solo project. You Know is an introspective, deeply poignant look into the mindset of a brilliant artist who is on the cusp of something really special in its contents, and I highly recommend giving it a listen the next time that you’re in the market for new music.