Though it’s hardly the only reason to examine the song, the guitar that guides us through the slow-churning rhythm of “I’ll See You On the Other Side” is definitely one of my favorite features in this track and all of the material in Jake Allen’s powerful Affirmation Day LP. Over ten years after releasing his first EP, Allen is back in the headlines again in 2020 with a fearlessly intimate effort peppered with potential hits in its title cut, “More Than Meets the Eye” and “Two Faced” just to name a few, and from where I sit, you’d be a fool to dismiss it as anything other than required listening this month.
The beat does a lot to increase the tension in “Clear,” “Indigo Son” and “Only You,” but catharsis is never an element that’s very far away from Allen in this record. He’s careful to couple every dark moment with a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, and although he’s not muting any of his angst in favor of glossing over the pain with pop varnish, he doesn’t spend a ridiculous amount of time in self-pity, either. In other words, his confessions are conservative in style but nonetheless authentic and unadorned with filler.
Affirmation Day has the tightest mixing of any album this artist has released in his career so far, and I think it was necessary for us to appreciate all of the detail in the music. From a distance, “Prague 6” and “Living Ghost” are a lot more cut and dry than they actually are from a compositional standpoint, and while his goal probably wasn’t showboating any specific component of his skillset, it’s hard to ignore the melodic muscle flexing Jake Allen engages in from one song to the next. I find it charming, and I think most listeners will be inclined to share my sentiments.
Harmonies that drive “On the Run,” “Indigo Son,” “Things We’ll Never Find” and “More Than Meets the Eye” have a very surreal edginess, but I don’t think I would chock up the accent to an attempt at fitting in with an underground trend. Truth be told, there isn’t anything in this record that sounds forced or sewn together in a bid for acceptance from Allen’s peers; if this were the case, I just don’t know that he would be as vulnerable in the lyrics we hear in this tracklist.
Try as you might, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find another album quite like the one Jake Allen has just released this October, and I don’t think I’m going to be the only critic to tell you as much before the year is over. Affirmation Day grants us an up close and personal access pass to a deeper layer of its composer’s persona than we had been privy to in the past, and even if you weren’t into his music before coming across this LP, it has the potential to make a lifelong fan out of you after the most cursory of uninterrupted listening sessions.
by Bethany Page