Jacob Furr – Form & Distance EP
Every month, we at Independent Clauses receive CDs to review. Some come shrink-wrapped and label-stamped, sounding crisp and processed; others are humble home-recordings with overwrought trappings of professionalism; then there are some like Jacob Furr’s Form & Distance EP. I opened my packet of CD’s this month to find one in a hopeful plastic jewel case, staring up at me with a sharpie-scrawled title balancing on the outer edge of a Memorex CD-R. No liner notes. No website. No song titles. No E-mail address. No contact information. My first thought was, “Oh no… this is going to be fun,” but I was pleasantly surprised by what my speakers sang when I popped Form & Distance in.
I imagine a studio apartment overlooking a busy city street—hey… I may be romanticizing here, but go with it—an old four-track recording unit rigged up to a Rube-Goldberg of ins and outs, direct boxes and preamps, and Jacob Furr sitting calmly in the middle of this, singing in a soft-spoken tenor into a beat-up SM-58 knock-off while the coffee percolates. The nine tracks of this album shift between coffee-shop acoustic love-songs keyed up with a harmonica’s dull whine, and dirty, slide-slinging, traditional blues. Furr didn’t fuss over an album theme or a concise sound, but he maintained a dutiful attention to lyrics and rhymes, which speaks of solid songwriting.
The fourth track—they didn’t have titles—tells an everyman story, punctuated by the verse: “I hope love finds you Homer/ before you’re six feet underground / Wrapped up in the dust that you came from / and the peace you never found,” and hung on the chorus: “You were born into the world a noble boy; / you were forced to work and do your part / And in the end what’s it all for / when you’re tired and thin like Homer Emmons.” A brush-stroked snare drum pushes the easy two-chord cycle, while a tambourine is tossed into the mix’s left ear, as Furr’s unobtrusive voice eases across the reflections of a man looking back on life. The last song of Form & Distance carries the lyrical tone of Bob Dylan on a positive trip, beginning each verse with, “Gather round you ______ / let me sing you a song; / the days to your redemption aren’t too long,” followed by a brief, poetic explanation of that particular group’s story. The song bears a wonderfully simple construction, and leaves you feeling uplifted.
You get the feeling, from listening to Form & Distance, that Furr had fun recording these songs, finally gathering enough to send them out. I wouldn’t say the tracks belong together on one album, but considering the way it arrived I wasn’t disappointed. There’s something to be said for someone making their own music without concern for commercialism; on the other hand, I’d like to know more about this album: Did Furr record all these songs himself? Did he play guitar, drums, harmonica, and tambourine? What are the song titles? Form & Distance is a work in progress and a good listen.
—Timothy C. Avery