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Jake Lear - “Take the intensity of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s scorching guitar technique and apply it to Bob Dylan’s stark, earnest songwriting, and what you now have is the music of bluesman Jake Lear,” writes Elmore Magazine. Lear, who was born in Vermont and raised on blues and country music has spent the last three year's playing to thousands on Memphis’ renowned Beale Street, honing the hard-hitting blues on which he is building a growing national reputation.
Jake's Band consists of bassist Carlos Arias and Drummer Roy Cunningham. Roy was a member of the Bar-Kays, a STAX studio drummer as well as a drummer for Albert King, Little Milton and Little Jimmy King.
DIAMONDS & STONES - Press Release - December 2012
Fast and loud is often mistaken for intensity the same way a sugar high passes for energy. The scalding blues of singer, songwriter and guitarist Jake Lear instead proffers a combustible combination of deep emotion hot-wired to an insider’s understanding of the music. The Memphis resident by way of Vermont honed his genuine credibility on Beale Street and his second full-length release reveals the tight arrangements and telepathic interplay of a road-tested power blues trio.
The eight originals and two covers feature Roy Cunningham (drums) and Carlos Arias (bass) in a pile-driving tandem contributing to a mammoth sound. With penetrating gruffness over the massive work song thump of his guitar, Lear confides, “Well, the night is falling and the darkness is coming right through my door” in the opener “Strange Things,” making every weighty note count over the throbbing, minor key 12-bar progression dark as river mud. “Going Back Home (North Mississippi Bound)” chugs and clangs like a smoking 100-car freighter through the Delta as he intones the title repeatedly like a mantra. Lear has the chops and finely-tuned ear to phrase vocally and instrumentally with consummate skill and drama while creating a seamless, hypnotic wall of sound. Segueing smoothly into the equally driving stomp of “Wasting Time,” Lear employs the sneer of early Dylan to describe his existential state of mind with, “Ain’t feeling too good, ain’t feeling too bad.”
The title track contains a deceptively laconic groove that pulls with the resolute power of a team of draft horses busting new ground. Using the poetic and visceral metaphor of “diamonds” and “stones,” Lear lays it on the line to a love interest about the hard road ahead as his guitar twangs empathically. “Down by the River” finds Lear playing an urgent, rolling syncopated rhythm, his knife-like guitar fills thrusting and parrying in between every vocal line such as, “Well, forget your past transgressions, tonight you’re staying here with me.” “Jack O’ Diamonds” by John Lee Hooker pays tribute to hypnotic monochord blues as pungent as a mess of spring leeks with the loaded line, “Put your jack up against a queen, you will make your money green.”
Simultaneously ratcheting up the mood and energy level, “Work Work Work” from Junior Wells is transformed into a furious Jimmy Reed-type shuffle that crackles and pops as Lear channels a whiff of “Maggie’s Farm” while bitching “Well I work, work, work, pretty baby, what I got to show, the only thing you give me, is hard way to go.” The haunting, minor key progression of “I See a Train Coming” filters the West Side blues of Sam, Otis and Buddy through his distinctly Southern sensibility as Lear conjures an ambivalent ambience musically and the startling contemporary lines, “All along the water, kids playing on the beach, all the parents reading books, closing eyes out of reach.” Acknowledging the influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lear rides a bucking Texas shuffle in “Quit You,” simultaneously revealing his vulnerability with, “If I’m gonna quit you, baby, I think I need the Lord’s help.” Lest anyone think Lear is loath to “throw down,” the spanking instrumental “Boogie Time” will dispel all notions as he picks with precision and the unbridled joy of a master blues guitarist in full command of his instrument.
Jake Lear swaggers through the blues with the bonafides to back it up. His smoldering vocals, rumbling grooves and straight razor solos deliver a jolt of pure blues bliss. Musical expression this real cannot be bought off the shelf, but earned through life lessons and unwavering dedication to the art form.
Dave Rubin, 2005 KBA recipient in Journalism
© 2013 JAKE LEAR