Dylan Jakobsen is a bit different from your stereotypical country singer and songwriter. He’s not from the south, didn’t grow up on a farm, doesn’t drink… Yet he’s certainly worthy of a spot-on country music’s mainstage. With his album, I Am, he paints a picture of his journey as an artist - incredibly well, I might add. Not only did Jakobsen write every song and play all the instruments on this album, he also produced it in his own home studio. His talent, across the board, is undeniable. So, buckle up: Jakobsen's album does not disappoint.
As the opening track “Dawn,” a minute-or-so instrumental, sets the tone for the entire album, taking listeners on a musical walk down and old dirt road. The choir of crickets in the background offers a nice extra touch, and leaves you wondering where things will head next. Then, Jakobsen just barely starts to sing something...
“I Hope You’re Doing Fine”
Next up is the heart-wrenching “I Hope You’re Doing Fine,” which opens with the sound of a phone call being dialed. As the song goes on, Jakobsen draws you in and, before long, leaves you feeling exactly the way he wants you to. He tugs on the heartstrings with a lyrical prowess. “I hope you’re doing fine, I hope everything's alright, although I know you ain't the girl I knew, know I’m still on your side” - a powerful line showing an advanced level of maturity in comparison to that of most men fresh out of a relationship.
“Just Enough” takes a turn and gets your toe tapping (this track has all the makings of a summer anthem). It’s a “hop in the car, windows down, and cruise” kinda song. With “Just Enough,” you truly begin to wrap your head around Jakobsen’s abilities as a musician. Lyrics “We were young, dumb, crazy kids in love, had just enough” calls the listener back to younger, simpler times when you had only what you needed - the song takes you back to the time before the world told you exacctly who you were “supposed” to be.
“What She Does”
“What She Does” highlights the kind of love some never find: the kind that ignites a feeling within that you can’t find with anyone else. “Every little thing has got me buzzing” plays into that theme and properly exploits the love interest in the song, showcasing her perfection in action and timing. It’s infectious - a different (and welcomed) type of love song.
“In America” is Jakobsen’s debut single from the project, and one he wrote years ago. "Right after I graduated, I went on my first tour ever and, thankfully, one of the last I planned myself,” he told Pop Culture in a recent premiere of the track. “It was super cool in the respect that it was me and four of my friends playing music and touring down the west coast together – a lot of crazy memories were made.” The song not only chronicles his adventure, but once again draws the listener back to one of our own. This too could hold rankings as a quintessential summer anthem...
“You Brought It”
In an emotional and desperate plea, Jakobsen addresses the old saying “don’t bring a gun knife to a gun fight” as it pertains to relationships. With the lyrics, “The scars you’re leaving on my skin when the cuts you caused start to sink in” - he points out that pain demands to be felt, and misery loves company. Despite the obvious sadness associated with the song, the track leaves you feeling less alone and draws attention to the fact that others go through the same thing. Vocally and instrumentally, Jakobsen really “brought it” with this one.
“I’m A Sinner”
Jakobsen takes you to church with the track, “I’m a Sinner”. The harmonica on the song sets it apart from the previous six - his musical range knows no bounds. We all know it can be hard to break old habits. This song is about that process and acknowledging who you are as a person. Jakobsen owns his mistakes in this one. “I keep lying and cheating and saying things I shouldn’t have said.” But, like any good God-fearing country artist, he points to the mercy of the Lord as the song finds resolution. “I’m a sinner, but God saved me.” The track is reminiscent of Eric Church, Chris Stapleton and Tom Petty.
“The Rally” is a true hype song, giving an optimistic view of the future and all its possibilities. Jakobsens sprawling vocals really shine through on this one. “From New York to Cali, to down in the Valley, the city, the country, we’re getting rowdy” speaks for itself. No matter where you are in the world, this song is for you. With a cool, nostalgic vibe, it calls listeners to throw down - and it’s undertones of national pride would make it a great 4th of July jam.
Nearing the end of the album, Jakobsen hits you with the title track, “I Am.” An inspirationally intimate self-portrait, he thanks everyone that’s truly made him who he is - and offers advice from lessons he’s learned along his life journey. A more laid-back mid-tempo, it’s remarkably easy to connect to and identify with, despite its personal nature, and reinforces Jakobsen’s confidence in how far he’s come while encouraging the listener to find that for themselves. “Row 30 Seat C”
“Row 30 Seat C” is a bit of a mystery - another purely instrumental track, just under a minute. However, when listening to the album from start to finish, as Jakobsen intended it, it feels just right and seamlessly feeds into the track that follows, “Color.”
Second to last is the track, “Color.” “I’ve been living like a monochrome memory,” “I call her the color in my life, in a world so black and white.” With lyrics set to a symphony of breathtakingly triumphant strings, the song nods to previous track “What She Does.” It’s clear Jakobsen’s been bitten by the love bug, and the production of the song sets up I Am swan song, “What Are You Waiting For.”
“What Are You Waiting For?”
Rounding out I Am, “What Are You Waiting For?” is Jakobsen’s battle cry. It’s all about taking that leap of faith, ignoring all those what-ifs. “The best things come when you don’t think twice.” Jakobsen’s vocals hit you right between the eyes. The track ends with a chorus of voices - voices of fans that he enlisted from a social media post, as he previously told The Boot. It’s the perfect ending to his album, as you’re left feeling content, inspired and ready to take on whatever the world may throw your way.
Overall, this album isn’t one you’ll want to skip over while browsing for new music on Spotify or iTunes. Talented artists are a dime a dozen… But artists willing to pour their souls so unapologetically into a work the way Jakobsen has with I Am is a rarity not to be missed. So, sit back, take the evening and take in everything the album has to offer. You’ll be better off for it.
I Am on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0fqNoyzukRFxP0HRMCE26s
I Am on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/i-am/1451358323