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Doug Gallant
The Guardian, PEI
June 7, 2002 


more reviews of Stuck On The Way Back
 
Teen already seasoned blues performer

At 19 years of age, David Jacobs-Strain has achieved a mastery of the guitar that will elude most players their entire lives.

He has speed, exquisite phrasing and a knowledge of the fretboard that is nothing short of jaw dropping.

And he loves the blues.

The Connecticut-born, Oregon-nurtured musician fell in love with the blues when he was still in primary school and has never seriously applied his talents to any other genre of music.

At nine years of age, when most boys his age were focusing their sights on little league baseball, Jacobs-Strain was taking guitar lessons. One of the first guitar pieces he mastered was the Bessie Smith chestnut Backwater Blues.

His guitar teacher, Emily Fox, said it was clear within a matter of months that that's where his heart was.

While others were asking their parents for money to go to the movies, he was asking his parents to take him to blues concerts.

Thankfully, they complied, taking him to see artists like Taj Mahal and Walker T. Ryan, both of whom have influenced him, as have the early recordings of Mississippi Fred McDowell, Lightning Hopkins and Robert Johnson. The kid who grew up on a diet of Delta blues is now being hailed as one of the best young blues guitarists in North America, an opinion you're likely to share after hearing
Stuck on the Way Back.

This is Jacobs-Strain's first album since signing on with the Toronto-based label NorthernBlues Music.

The rising guitar star, who played his first real show at the age of 11 and has been teaching blues guitar to others at major guitar workshops since he was 15, has crafted an album here that will most certainly enhance his stock in the world blues community.

The album draws equally on the influence of the Delta blues legends whose music he grew up with and the work of more contemporary blues artists, including fellow NorthernBlues artist Otis Taylor, who penned one of the album's 12 tracks and co-wrote the lyrics to another.

Jacobs-Strain has also incorporated elements of the roots music of Africa, the Middle East and India into his music, which continues to evolve as he absorbs more and more music from the greater world community.

His original material is skillfully crafted and displays a lyrical sensibility that is almost as refined as his playing. Vocally, too, he displays a maturity that is far beyond his years, belting out the blues like someone who's been in the trenches for decades.

Jacobs-Strain received solid support on
Stuck on the Way Back from multi-instrumentalists Peter Joseph Burtt and Kenny Passarelli. Passarelli also produced the sessions.

Top tracks on this set include
River Was Green, Sidewalk Rag, Old Man Dancing, Bowlegged Charlie and Dark Horse Blues.
*****
 



"The kid who grew up on a diet of Delta blues is now being hailed as one of the best young blues guitarists in North America..."