For the first time in my blogging life, I find myself compelled to write an article about a youtube sensation. Until now, all of the artists I have written about have come to my attention by releasing EPs and albums or playing live music, but this time around it is a young musician who has harnessed the power of a modern medium to spread his music. Jacob Collier, the British prodigy whose music is loosely centred in jazz, just released his debut record, In My Room, and it is an astounding testament to songwriting, arrangement, and pure musical talent and innovation.
Jacob Collier’s sensational youtube videos mostly consisted of split screens featuring himself singing multi-part harmonies and playing a plethora of instruments with remarkable capability. Collier has released a number of covers ranging in genre with a few original compositions mixed in, all with top-notch production, and all created exclusively by the man himself. Every voice, every instrument, and all of the production is carried out by Jacob Collier in his home.
I discovered Jacob Collier via his feature on Snarky Puppy’s Family Dinner vol. 2, in which he performed an original called “Don’t You Know” (the final track on his debut album). I was first intrigued by the system he used to create multi-part harmonies live without a loop pedal through some sort of vocoder. Then the piano solo hit. This kid seemed to switch gears from talented vocalist to jazz piano master, laying down an absolutely captivating passage of music. On In My Room, Jacob Collier has consistently shown an ability to amaze on nearly any conceivable instrument (I particularly like his bass work on this record).
In My Room is fundamentally a jazz album, but to restrict it to jazz is to grossly misrepresent the diversity of Collier’s music. His vocals are rooted in pop and R&B, while the instrumentation is based in jazz, pop, funk, folk, and world music. These forces are intertwined through complex arrangements that shift in time, key, and instruments used with great regularity, all the while maintaining an incredibly rich texture. Some songs will make you move, some will fill your soul, some may even make you laugh. I can honestly say I have never heard an album quite like In My Room, and I don’t think I’m likely to hear another one like it any time soon.
Whether you are into soulful vocals, sheer musical talent, or layered composition, In My Room is an album that you must hear. Jacob Collier is without a doubt a musical prodigy. Go get your hands on In My Room as soon as you can.