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The Flying Change
Pain Is A Reliable Signal
Scarlet Shame Records
www.theflyingchange.com


There is a soft, sensuous beauty in sadness. The poets who crafted the Bible even knew it as they claimed "a sad face, is good for the heart of a man." Sam Jacobs not only understands this sentiment, but revels in it. His band, The Flying Change, fully explores this tenet on their most recent release Pain Is A Reliable Signal. The band churns out songs that are heavy with sadness and melancholy, running the gamut between low alt. country tunes and noisy near-rock. While the music is beautiful and soothing, Jacobs' voice is sometimes slightly off-key, the dissonance adding a tension to these fine songs that makes them even more memorable. The tunes on Pain Is A Reliable Signal invoke many influences without being directly pointed… Nick Cave, John Prine, Mojave 3, and even, at times, a mellow Neil Young.

The album starts off with the slow, low "Broken Bow" which sets the tone for the record. The song is built on acoustic guitar and Jacobs' voice, backed by reverb-heavy piano, low drums, and ethereal steel guitar. "Broken Bow" builds the hope inside the listener that this whole record will be very Mojave 3-esque, with a touch of Nick Cave thrown in for good measure. "The Mayo Clinic" maintains the same low groove with some added drums and a nice rhythm that rolls along, highlighted by pizzicato strings. "Dirty White Coats" offers up commentary on the state of the modern world backed by mandolin, strings, and beautiful backing vocals, sounding a bit like quieter Leonard Cohen in its presentation. "If You See Something" lightly works in a bit of 60s' psychedelic pop style and then the album takes a turn to the noisy, more raucous side, as "The Ways That We Destroy Ourselves" adds in distorted guitars and trumpets with a throbbing drum rhythm that pushes the sound to eleven. "Don't Look Away" works in some synthesizer bleeps and a wild rumpus in the beat before the magnificent "Burning A Horse" brings things back down to a quiet, reflective moment. The album finishes up with the quiet solitude of "The Northern Bay", a song with more danger, vision, beauty, and aching than most modern records hold in their entirety.

Not only are the songs on Pain Is A Reliable Signal well written and emotionally charged (albeit in a rather down-played fashion), but they are very well produced. Robert L. Smith and Paul Brill (a master of gloomy Americana of his own sort) have taken the songs of The Flying Change and created a musical palette that is very evocative and cinematic. The songs carry the mind from a stark desert landscape to the bustle of an urban center, and back to the peace of the country. Jacobs has done a wonderful job of writing songs that are highly personal, but also tell stories in a way that Paul Simon would be proud of, and putting them all together in a wildly delicious package of aural bliss.

-Embo Blake

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