It’s been a year of massive change for Dylan Jakobsen since 2012’s “Tell Everything.” He’s got a new band, a new sound, a new haircut and even a thick beard made even more impressive by the fact he just turned 20 last month.
Such a rapid reinvention isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially not that much all at once, but for Jakobsen it’s doing more good than harm. Jakobsen’s sophomore effort “Statelines,” out July 30, documents the Seattle singer-songwriter’s sea change.
He’s given up his teenage emo-pop trappings for a pop-inspired alt-country sound that doesn’t compromise who he is, namely still quite young but with veteran talent.
In many ways, country and emo-pop are pretty similar, from the source material (coming of age, love woes) to the fact that both genres love a good hook. Jakobsen hasn’t lost his youthful exuberance, but it’s tempered now with a maturing sound that should bring in some older fans.
“Statelines” kicks off with the slow burning swagger of “Downtown,” which announces Jakobsen’s growth as a performer and songwriter.
“Tastes Like Summer,” the album’s first single, is a solid tune that sounds like any number of summer jams on mainstream country radio. Depending on your point of view, that’s not a bad thing at all. It speaks to the song’s easy likability and Jakobsen’s earnest tenor sells it.
Perhaps the best song off “Statelines” is the eponymous track, buried near the end of the album. It’s a sonic representation of where Jakobsen was and where he is going as an artist. It starts with a pretty generic poppy acoustic guitar intro but by the time the second verse hits the song’s true nature — and Jakobsen’s — reveals itself: It is a country song, and a pretty good one at that.
And Jakobsen, whether he realized it a year ago or not, is a pretty good country artist. He can skip another round of reinvention and start perfecting his craft.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails