Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
𝙄 𝙇𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙔𝙤𝙪 (𝙎𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙨 𝙑𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣) - 𝙈𝙞𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙚𝙡 𝙅𝙖𝙘𝙤𝙗
Charles travels the world (musically speaking), and ends up back in Europe.
I have seen very few places in the world. I have always wanted to go to America - New York, Arizona, Chicago - but have never quite managed it. I have never travelled to the opposite side of the world where the large island of Australia resides. I certainly have never immersed myself in deeply foreign cultures, found in places such as India or Africa. Through music however, I have been on a lifelong journey, giving me the feeling of having travelled the entire planet. Music gives me the thoughts, observations, dreams, imagination and cravings that I need to survive. Music has educated me to an extent and shown me the various cultures of the world. Black soul, blues and funk artists have allowed me aboard their ship on which to groove. Latin elements have made me understand the importance of rhythm, and given me the ability to not only count differently but almost think differently. Eastern music has brought me new sounds in instruments with which I had not previously been familiar, and has shown me there is far more to harmony than I had initially realised. My soul however seems to lie in Europe, with its many micro-cultures that exist clustered together in a relatively small chunk of the world. Eastern Europe has shown me its own take on classical and folk music. It fascinates and haunts me, yet I cannot help but smile in wonder. TRUE Europe though - ‘classic’ Europe is what makes my heart sit in its right place. The amalgamation of just a few countries’ music is enough to make me spark. France, with its kookiness and pride. Germany, with its boldness and strength. Italy, with its fondness and warmth. And Spain, with its rhythm and fun.
I speak of all this, for our very own Michael Jacob has seemingly been inspired by much of the world’s music, and I feel this is shown ever-so beautifully in his song, I Live for You (Strings Version). I am strictly talking about the strings version as I feel it gives more power and nuance to the song than his original. Thankfully though, Michael has opted for far more than strings as accompaniment to his vocals. Despite his hunky Italian look, Michael actually hails from the land of the frogs’ legs and snails. The place where an accordionist serenades at every corner (cue my latest single). The country where I ignore the snooty, but surrender to the beauty. AKA, France.
Deep cellos and bowed double-basses lead us in like a Hoover through the dust. Before long, the dust fights back as it spirals with the reflected glint of the sun, in the form of violas, flute and clarinet, all bustling for the spotlight, whipping up anticipation of the vocals to come. The orchestra is chivalrous and well-mannered enough to leave space for the star of the show, leaving only staccato cellos for structure and sparse yet vital harmony. A tanned Mr. Jacob takes the mic like he has done so many times before and his voice is not as we would expect. No, he doesn’t sound like Edith Piaf or anything like that (as if there is anything like that), but he sounds utterly black. He has the tone, richness and soul of Stevie Wonder and Seal wrapped into one. Which can only be a good thing. Violas make an occasional appearance to ease us further into the piece.
Electric bass and simple latin-inspired drums softly punch us into the first chorus with a melody that yearns. The addition of thickly mixed triangle adds so much more than I thought a triangle capable. The humble triangle - an underrated instrument, and the only one that my father always said he would probably be able to master - I still have my doubts. This arrangement though, is a staggering achievement. The strings sway in and sway out with the politeness of a line-dancer as the flute takes flight to new heights. There is no doubting Michael Jacob’s inspiration being Stevie Wonder, but if you’ve got to be inspired by someone, it might as well be Stevie Wonder. This works sonically because it is natural. His voice and range are similar. A little like myself being heavily influenced by Paul McCartney over the years (his and mine) - we have a similar tone, range and register. Which is nice.
The second verse allows the strings to have a little more presence, as a subtle electric guitar weaves the notes the strings are reluctant to play. And without enough time to sit down, we are whisked into another chorus, with a difference. Michael reveals his funkier side as the “proper” drums bump us into groove and the guitar and bass make us wince a wicked satisfaction. 2:25 sees an inspiring and unexpected key change, achieved with sophisticated precision. The bass slopes off and no one notices. A classical guitar ornaments the instrumental strings section as it revels in the post-rain air. A choir of Michaels takes us all the way to the song’s final chord.
I Live for You (Strings Version) is impressive in its scale, but also in its subtlety and care. Every moment has been thought through and analysed, while retaining freshness and nature. I do love it when there is so much depth in a song. So many layers though which to delve, and so many levels on which to climb. It is impeccably produced and mixed. I say that from the point of view of someone who produces and mixes, but also as someone who simply adores music. Hats off to you, Michael.
Where will YOU be going this summer? Europe, perhaps…?
Listen to 𝙄 𝙇𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙔𝙤𝙪 (𝙎𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙨 𝙑𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣) on the 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿 Spotify playlist HERE!
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