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Jacob Faurholt’s Wake Me Up speaks to our year

Last updated on November 20, 2020

Jacob Faurholt’s Wake Me Up screams out loud what many of us sleepwalking through 2020 may be thinking. The twelve-song album via Raw Onion Records from one of Denmark’s contemporary lyrical masters drops a symphony of sonic brilliance in its minimalist folk. 

Simply stating that Faurholt’s latest work was recorded and engineered in his bedroom studio could seem like jumping on the pandemic bandwagon. Yet working remotely has been part of this troubadour’s approach for quite some time. Calling on friends in California and Switzerland, Wake Me Up reaches inward during a time of forced isolation, ripping slowly at the artist’s internal dis-ease one discomfort at a time. Calling out eclectic lo-fi heroes like Phil Elverum as musical influences, each beat this musical poet shares is influenced by this time warp of our current circumstances. The uncomfortable yet joyfully relatable inner journey into personal reflection depicts our virtual coexistence at its best.

Unleashing the nightmares, opener “All My Heroes Are Dead” is the perfect freefall into Faurholt’s universe. Both plucky and matter-of-fact musically, his lyrical imagery feels maniacal in its calm. Hollow vocals shape this synth-driven song. The grief-stricken follow-up “Don’t Go” with seems to fade into nothing. The sequencing on this record is excellent, with each track advancing the songwriter’s ideas seamlessly.

“Don’t Waste Your Soul” throws the notion of time in the eternal sense into this record. The rich, lush layers of Faurholt’s crystal clear vocals have no competition on the record; this is a standout. Abstract familiarity wraps around us all in “I Love You,” which then trips into the best of the record with “Hi How Are You?” The rambling, matter of fact, whistling-in-the-dark acoustic guitar of “Hi” embraces the notion of emotional support, revealing cracks in the psychological armor through tonal composition. (Behind that psychological armor: the only way this year has been bearable is that we’ve been in it together.) Built with discordant chord structures balanced against an aura of hope, I am grateful other people bear witness to the insanity that we have so far survived, no matter where we live on the planet. 

The title track in Jacob Faurholt’s reality is all of ours. Like Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella Heart of Darkness that gave birth to Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocolypse Now, this year of death, horror, and fear has changed us. Wandering on near the end of a genius creation, “Pitch-Black” takes a quick hit into technology’s alien world. 

Revisiting the notion that each human being is alone in this, “Don’t Worry About Me” is that quarantine anthem we all know too well. Truth be told, fear is the common thread throughout this year, from Italy’s crisis leading to jellyfish in the Venice Canals to New York City’s terrible experience of COVID-19 in the United States. This song points back to our fears. 

Cara Engel’s “Circus Horses” comes to mind while listening to “Tiny Unicorn,” with its childlike vision of reality. Shifting into the upbeat “Boys & Girls” is perfect, like throwing the doors open after a deep winter storm. Authentic, simple guitar with a sprinkling of piano suggests that somehow we all know we are not alone, right? Closer “We All Need Someone” seems the perfect reminder of humanity’s frailty in the face of isolation for the common good. Plaintive, aching, and soulful, right now is the perfect time to start Jacob Faurholt ‘s Wake Me Up from the beginning.--Lisa Whealy

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