Independent singer-songwriter Jake Allen is scheduled to release his new album Friday. Allen’s fourth full-length studio recording, Affirmation Day is a 56-minute presentation that is full of deeply emotional compositions that will appeal easily to fans of John Mayer just as much as they will to fans of the emo world. This sounds like an odd juxtaposition, but it truly is the case here. The fruition of Allen’s recent global travels, the 12-song record will have its own longevity, as it will take many listens for audiences to get to the point in which they start picking their favorite songs. One of the most notable of the album’s songs is its most recent single, ‘On The Run.’ It will be examined shortly. ‘Things We’ll Never Find,’ which comes later in the record’s run, is another example of how much the album has to offer audiences. It will be discussed a little later. ‘Clear,’ which comes just past the album’s midpoint, is another notable entry in this latest offering from Allen. It will also be discussed later. When these three songs are considered with the rest of Affirmation Day’s entries, the record in whole becomes a presentation that audiences are sure to find quite endearing.
Jake Allen’s fourth full-length studio recording, Affirmation Day, is a presentation that will move audiences from beginning to end. That is proven through its musical and lyrical contents throughout, not the least point of which being the album’s latest single, ‘On The Run.’ The song’s musical arrangement takes a minimalist approach while also using Allen’s signature finger picking style. The subdued vibe of the overall arrangement serves to illustrate the seeming theme of a romantic relationship that is presented in the song’s lyrical side.
The noted seeming theme is inferred right from the song’s lead verse as Allen sings, “It’s been keeping me awake/All the heart that you put into the smiles that you fake/It’s been weighing on my soul/All the strength that I’ve lost/To find a way to gain control/through the lens of an untrained eye/if the life I’m searching for/is the life that I want to find.” It is inferred just as much in the song’s second verse, which finds Allen singing, “So how can I erase/That mirage in your eyes/On an unreachable place/’Cause when I give myself to you/there’s so much you don’t take/Even when you say you do/So how can I be sure/Under reign of a fallen star/If who you say you are/is who you really are.” The song’s chorus puts the final touch to the nod argument. That is because Allen sings, “So I’ll always be on the run/’Til the world shows me who to become/But if only I’d ever need a friend/I would run to be with you/Until I run away again.” This leaves no doubt as to the song’s lyrical theme. The way in which Allen presents the topic is familiar, but not overly so. It is still is a somewhat original, poetic presentation that will move listeners, especially when it is considered along with the song’s musical arrangement. Keeping both sides of the song in mind, they make the song just one example of what makes Affirmation Day worth hearing. ‘Things We’ll Never Find’ is another of the album’s positive points.
‘Things We’ll Never Find’ presents a musical arrangement that once again presents the noted John Mayer influence, but also features a touch of emo influence. Speaking more specifically, the song presents a sound similar to that of works from early Jimmy Eat World. That is the case both in its softer moments and in its more energetic chorus. It sounds like an odd combination in itself, but it works here in its own way. What is interesting about this catchy pop-rock presentation is that it is an interesting counter to the song’s seeming lyrical theme.
The lyrical theme that ‘Things We’ll Never Find’ comes across as being one of those familiar metaphorical works that addresses the issue of love found and lost. It hints at the old adage that ‘‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’ That is most clearly inferred in the song’s chorus, which finds Allen singing, “You took my hand in such a radiant scene/With a face that only manifests in dreams/You slipped right through my fingers/Now your voice is gone/But the song plays on for good.” As Allen transitions into the song’s second verse, he adds, “So can we let go of these gifts we’ve left behind/And find understanding in the things we have/And the things we’ll never find.” The song that he mentions playing on for good is addressed in the song’s lead verse, in which Allen sings, “Late at night/A melody came/But in the morning/It just didn’t sound the same/It slipped through my fingers.” Here again is that seeming statement about love found, but lost, but the addition of the song’s musical arrangement to the presentation gives the song a unique touch. It does not take the standard oh-woe-is-me route thanks to that wording and musical presentation. Rather, it takes a more positive outlook. This is something that plenty of audiences will appreciate. Keeping this in mind along with the appeal of ‘On The Run,’ the two songs collectively even more what makes Allen’s new album appealing. They are just a portion of what makes the record worth hearing, too. ‘Clear,’ which comes just past the album’s midpoint, is one more of the album’s positive points.
The musical arrangement featured in ‘Clear’ shows even more of an emo influence than that of ‘Things We’ll Never Find.’ Adding to that is that unlike the noted song, the Jimmy Eat World influence is replaced here with something more along the lines of Yellowcard and Simple Plan in an acoustic vein. To that end, this expands the album’s appeal even more. When this is considered along with the song’s lyrical content, that appeal and interest grows that much more.
The lyrical content that accompanies this song’s upbeat musical arrangement is so interesting because it seems to present the theme of learning to let go. This does not have to necessarily relate to the topic of a breakup. It could also connect to the issue of letting go of a loved one who has died. This is inferred as Allen sings, “So vivid I remember/the day you said goodbye/Your fading eyes saw through me/And gazed up to the skies/And I though of stories/Allegories to find some higher view/But between the thoughts was/Where I lost the fiction and found the truth.” The seeming message becomes clearer in the song’s second verse, as Allen sings, “So I hold on to that image/The last of you I saw/The final look you gave me/The ending to it all/An incarnation’s set duration is so ambiguous/Do we shy and falter/Or try to alter the frame of what this is.” The song’s third and final verse hints even more at the noted theme, as Allen sings, “So I’m pushing my heart into/A disillusioned place/And freeing myself from all these/Fragile thoughts of holding on/So to see your transformation through unconditioned eyes/It’s funny to believe that/You could ever say goodbye.” That final statement about a person having to come to terms with someone “saying goodbye” either in person or metaphorically (when they die), the noted message gains even more ground. Again, the semi-upbeat musical arrangement that accompanies the song’s lyrical content makes for its own interesting listen. When the two sides are coupled, they make song even more powerful, as it seems to present a sense of accepting the noted loss, regardless of the situation. It reminds listeners that loss does not have to be entirely bad. It’s yet another way in which the album shows its strength. When the song is considered with the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album becomes a unique presentation that is another success from Allen.
Jake Allen’s fourth new album Affirmation Day is a positive new offering that audiences will themselves affirm is worth hearing. That is thanks to its musical and lyrical content alike. Each of the songs examined in this review support the noted statements. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the album in whole becomes a work that continues Allen’s ongoing success yet again.
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