David Jacobs-Strain - Reviews


"With his fifth album, his second for the NorthernBues label, David Jacobs-Strain shows that all the approbation that's come his way of late is well earned. There has been a slew of young guitarists in recent years littering the blues-rock landscape, but Jacobs-Strain is the real deal. For one thing, he doesn't jut rock out: he's learned the art of crossing musical boundaries from the masters. His music has a fiery passion that's exciting and engaging, tempered with an aesthetic reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest, where he grew up and cut his first guitar strings. Don't be fooled by his youth; Jacobs-Strain knows what he's doing."

Dirty Linen
April/May 2005 


"Funny old world. Here's a 21-year-old blues singer with monster guitar chops who was born in Connecticut, raised in Oregon and studies cultural anthropology at Stanford University. Toss into the mix that he was inspired to take up the blues by seeing a Taj Mahal concert, and he has performed with Los Lobos, Robert Cray and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Oh, and consider that his CD was produced by Kenny Passarelli, who introduced us to Otis Taylor on NorthernBlues a few years back. Jacobs-Strain has already been touched for great things, and this album demonstrates why." 4 1/2 stars out of 5

-Ted Shaw
The Windsor Star
September 2, 2004 


"The photo on the CD package of Ocean or a Teardrop can't be David Jacobs-Strain, the young American blues lion starting to roar:

The guy in the photo looks too young to have the bottleneck-slide chops and the vocal passion and intensity featured on the recording. Forget about performing for a decade and releasing four prior albums.

Ocean or a Teardrop delivers big time, with a blend of raw Americana fused with sounds from around the world.

Jacobs-Strain is joined by Kenny Passarelli as producer-bassist, Kendrick Freeman and Mark Clark on drums, Joe Filisko on harmonica, Danny Click on guitar, Joe Craven on mandolin and Anne Weiss on vocals, among others.

The spirit of young Stevie Ray Vaughan lives."

-Robert Reid
Kitchener-Waterloo Record
September 4, 2004 


"The young Mr. Jacobs-Strain has come a long way since his first CD. With the help of Otis Taylor's former producer, Kenny Passarelli, he has turned in a masterful effort combining strong vocals, strong songs and the unusual instrumentation Passarelli used to such good effect on Taylor's earlier albums. His guitar prowess of course is not in doubt but these arrangements show a rapidly maturing artist. Fred McDowell's "Kokomo Blues" opens the program with a delightful arrangement for full band, with Jacobs-Strain on resonator. The title song is a Jacobs-Strain original that would impress anyway but in an arrangement that includes fiddle, kora, djembe and drum loops proves that there's more to life than two guitars, bass & drums. Sleepy John Estes' "Girl I Love" is just Jacobs-Strain on guitar & vocals but Blind Willie Johnson's "Soul of a Man" gets a new arrangement with chains, trash can vocals and shakers that keep this now often-covered song interesting. The original "Shoot the Devil" shows that he can write a song that does not sound out of place in this list. Keep an eye on Mr. Jacobs-Strain."

-John Valenteyn
MapleBlues Newsletter
September, 2004 


"A large portion of the music is controlled frenzy with incredible musicianship and visionary mixing/engineering.

"...Thank you David for living up to the potential we knew you had. We've had the pleasure of watching you grow musically and I can't wait to see you with a band ... LIVE!"

September 1, 2004 


"Already established as a major young figure in the blues, David Jacobs-Strain widens his horizons a bit with this album. Blues remains at the roots, but on some case, such as the adventurous "Earthquake" or the lyrical "Illinois," it's a little obscured by the branches overhead. That's not to say he's entirely turning his back on what begat him: there are splendid versions of songs by Blind Willie Johnson and Fred McDowell here, while his version of Sleepy John Estes's "Girl I Love" is a delight of slide guitar played with a maturity far beyond his young ears. But Jacobs-Strain has rapidly developed as a writer, as something like "Take My Chances" shows. Featuring oud and kora along with more standard Western instruments, it's a tour de force for his gravelly voice, while "Yelapa Breakdown" transports him somewhat into early country territory, with some superb fiddle work from Joe Craven (who's also outstanding on the title track). But perhaps the hardest-hitting cuts here feature a very small band - both "Shoot The Devil" and "Sleepless Dream" benefit from a glorious tension in the arrangements that propels the music along. Getting better on guitar every day, never flashy or arrogant about his talent, Jacobs-Strain is set to become a major figure in music, not just blues. 4 out of 5 stars."

-Chris Nickson
All Music Guide
September, 2004