Record Of The Week # 117

Jacob Tovar – Another Time, Another Place

The camera works it’s way down the side of the train until we find Jacob Tovar standing in the doorway of an open boxcar, he’s stood legs astride, playing acoustic guitar to the wide open spaces that the train’s passing through. “I Felt Love”, with its shuffling beat and the rhythm of a train, fits perfectly. As the shot closes in we see behind Tovar is his four piece band. We immediately know that this must be a steam locomotive upfront as Paul Wilkes is plucking an upright bass. Adding to the atmosphere is a squealing, yet discrete pedal steel, whilst the drums maintain this travelling beat. The words are about a peripatetic musician and the regret he has for being away from home for long stretches. My scene is imaginary but it would have been my video of this first single off the album to encapsulate the magic.

This song may not be typical of the album but the album is high quality as Tovar moves between country, western and honky tonk. There’s a real affection and accomplishment in his deep dive into the heritage of the genres. Throughout Tovar leads the band on an acoustic guitar and with his steely and attractive baritone he’s selected covers and written some originals that fit like a glove. The sublime opening track is the much covered Ernest Tubbs’ “Another Story, Another Time, Another Place”. It’s a faithful version albeit he’s more Jim Reeves in his delivery for me. “Cleveland Summer Nights” moves us forward a few decades and electric guitar and piano sit behind Tovar and Isaac Hanson’s harmonies. Yes, it’s that Hanson of “MMMbop” fame who as a Tulsa resident has produced the album.

“Josh’s Song” is an acoustic track albeit with some soft organ that showcases Tovar’s voice; it’s a plaintive ballad about parting. “Just By Myself” is an original composition with a chorus that had me thinking of George Ezra in its delivery. Again he hits a groove and tells us of a day in the life where his solitude is a blessing. Cooper Waugh’s electric guitar is distinctive in its contribution to the melody and rhythm. Then it’s back to the 1950’s with “Stop The World (And Let Me Off)”. This upbeat near rocker has had many suitors but probably none more successful than Patsy Cline. Here Tovar’s rendition is akin to Dwight Yoakam’s cover with the same vocal inflections. It’s a great song and worthy of another outing.

I love the breadth of country sounds, the quality of song selection and the wonderful delivery. To think that the southern States have artists like this operating on a local gig basis who never get the recognition they deserve is disappointing not least because he needs to be heard by a wider audience.

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