Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brad Kopplin, Patrick Tape-Fleming and Joe Terry
Set a fingerprint upon the surface of one of Jacob Golden's songs and it is liable to shatter into a million fluttering pieces, dissipating out into some fine powder that couldn't be held and won't be seen ever again, mixed up into all of the streaming circulation. The words and the music that they've befriended - or he's made them befriend - are of the highest form of fragile, as if they don't even exist now. It's as if they should have already been touched and ie. shattered and scattered. It's as if there's no possible way that such things could exist in a state that would take more work to protect than it would to identify as such.
The Oregonian takes great pains to give his voice all of the unforgettable softness needed to make sure that he can express these very personal and very thought out situations that he couldn't be more consumed by, allowing them to just strike like the tiniest hammer. It's a hammer, we know immediately, because Golden doesn't write kitty cat lyrics about sentimentality and the appreciation of that sentimentality. It's almost as if the things that he's writing about now are the grown up versions of some of the most basic fears of a child - scariness at-large and grotesque, blindsided change - but getting them to feel like secrets or little slices of scripture written in invisible ink and buried deep within the ground for concealment. These are words and songs that feel forbidden to the normal ear, to anyone who could possibly run off and tell someone else what they just heard Jacob was thinking, what Jacob was scared about this time.
They are temperamental and slightly terrifying in a charming way. We're all a bit voyeuristic and what he's chosen to sing about on Revenge Songs and in the two new songs that he plays here in this session is maddeningly and intoxicatingly personal, even though there's no confusion about the intention he had in turning them into pretty winged things. There are numerous moments of the kind that he sings about in "Hold Your Hair Back," which should be a phrase connected with the small niceties that are extended to another during a raging fit of regurgitation after a long, long night of unsettling drinking.
What Golden uses the phrase to help him convey is a sort of crippling coming to terms with what could easily happen to he and the rest of us if we let the haywire into our hearts and the shitstorm just picks up speed. He asks any certain someone if they'll hold his hair back (he's already offered his assistance in the similarly described scenario) when the world just gets too overwhelming. Golden makes the most of an impression when he's using the lightest pressing down of his feet, the faintest of a shake and the shakiest of his confidence. He name checks Jarvis Cocker, PJ Harvey and the coming of the spirit of George Harrison, who it sounds like he might wish to make a personal friend of.
He sings, "Out come the wolves/They're hunting our great American idols," and this seems to worry him. The thought of things turning out to be something other, something lesser than they are in his mind is too unbearable to face. The thought of life being more sour pits and bittersweet collaborations with unpredictable demons and whirlwinds of flaky people is as disastrous as it sounds and so he puts the la las in there, gets hot in the face and throat and hopes that he'll not have to curl up into a ball and wait for the fallout, as inevitable as it may be.