Home to brown bears, caribou and the occasional musician, Alaska thrives on an identity of personal space and natural isolation. For native songwriter Paul Jacks, this sense of identity has become inextricably entangled within the expansive complexities of his own musical and emotional instincts. Meticulously arranging a wide expanse of influences and filtering them through his own unique experiences has allowed him the freedom to jump genres and approach his work without restriction or overt inspiration. His work suggests more than it explains, giving his listeners room for private interpretation and association.
On his forthcoming third album Black Jackal, Jacks’ music inhabits both a pre- and post-apocalyptic world and soundtracks his attempts to maneuver around in this ever-shifting environment. Using Egyptian mythology as a framework, he uses the songs to explore the transition to some sort of afterlife. He reveals that the record represents a “journey into the dark to discover the light which has the power to transform us.” Hanging out with him as he struggles to make sense of it all are shivering synths, electronic pianos, orchestral arrangements, and shadow-filled harmonies. He adapts the sounds of 80’s new wave and goth into his own personal reflection of the end times.
He opens the album in spectacular fashion with “Lunacy’s Back”, which just so happens to be the latest single from this collection — a track that pulls us into a dreamlike state where trumpets and synths whirl around Jacks’ voice in a constant loping motion. This is the beginning of our end, the last hurrah before we’ve completely eroded away the last vestiges of civilization. We’re on the cusp of some terrible tragedy with no real understanding of how to stop it. This is desolation pop, musically exuberant but lyrically astringent – though not without some semblance of pitch-black humor accompanying our downfall.
Paul Jacks’ new record Black Jackal is due out December 4 via Tritone Records. Follow Jacks on Facebook in the lead up to the album’s release.