Words by: Drew Krapljanov
Comparing Jacob Diamond’s eponymous debut EP, Chum twists the spotlight on of his timid folk roots casting a shadowy, subverted reinvention much in the vein of Tom Waits as he moved from his piano crooner origins of ‘Closing Time’ to the more frenetic and chaotic jazz frenzy of ‘Nighthawks at the Diner’ and ‘Small Change’
Yet upon first listen, the subtle change in mood may pass you by. The EP’s opening track, ‘Welcome to the Valley’ creeps in unassumingly similar to the winding and sprawling opening track of Jeff Buckley’s Grace, ‘Mojo Pin’. Diamond’s displays a newfound confidence in his once timid voice as he whispers and swoons through the song’s unravelling, ambitious structure.
Dissonance and the use of dissonance for dramatic effect is an element found throughout Chum. The highly experimental ‘Singapore Sling’ uses this to wonderfully gruesome effect. Initial impressions could leave you dumbfounded and grimacing due to the song’s complicated structure and ugly, chaotic noise section. However, with the help of Will Langdale’s twisted, swampy production and Diamond’s impressive, versatile vocal performance, it is an ultimately rewarding, ambitious listen.
If the subversion of Jacob Diamond’s singer/songwriter doesn’t immediately reveal itself with ‘Singapore Sling’, the wounded cover of ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’ will surely unravel Chum’s ambiguity and ‘If and When I Die’ plays with the tongue-in-cheek found in a Bright Eyes song.
While ambitious, the EP is not without it’s flaws. The subtle background embellishments add atmosphere yet lack the clarity to adequately highlight the instrumentation and the overall production hinders the dynamic power of Diamond’s voice. The disappointing and uneventful closing track ‘On the Road to St Ives’ drags on at a placid pace with overly distorted vocals and paper-thin plucking strings that fail to captivate.
‘Chum’ is a surprising reinvention that is rough around the edges and intriguing at first listen, yet rewarding and creative after multiple.
If You Liked This, You May Also Like:
Tom Waits – Nighthawks at the Diner
Big Star – Radio City
Wilco – Star Wars