The Flying Change – Pain is a Reliable Signal

The Flying Change - Pain is a Reliable Signal

The Flying Change - Pain is a Reliable Signal

Life is an ongoing journey filled with soaring highs and deplorable lows. For the mastermind behind The Flying Change, life has certainly felt especially challenging. After Sam Jacobs’ wife began to suffer severe back pain, she was diagnosed with a rare and unique disease. And since then, no subsequent surgery, doctor’s visit or hospitalization has been able to improve her well being. It is their story that is depicted on Pain is a Reliable Signal and it fuels the album’s music with poignant emotion and raw storytelling.

Fixated on a life missed and memories of what could have been, Jacobs knows that he will always be there for his wife, through thick and thin. “Hold My Heartache” is a microcosm of what the entire album has to offer in one melancholy, transfixing murmur. Descending pianos lead into a softly enunciated saxophone solo and the details are all proudly worked out with Jacobs’ choice of instrumentation being an understated but intelligent alternative.

His Howe Gelb-like delivery on “Broken Bow” lets the music breathe with a seamless drift of passing vocals and swirling strings. Effortlessly beginning with a rousing soar, “The Mayo Clinic” follows Jacobs and his wife to another hospital with an optimistic outlook. And although it doesn’t turn out the way they had hoped, the Iron & Wine-influenced shuffle of plunking guitars and tumbling drums make everything seem all right, for now.

And with pounding music, rocking guitars and shouting screams of anguish and despair, “St. Mary’s” is an unadulterated release of stress and uproar. Never one to hold back, Jacobs does an exemplary job of providing enough abundance and range with his song choice and sequencing. Spanning between clever, pop songs like “If You See Something” and burning, depression on “Burning a Horse,” the array of styles is diversified and wealthy.

Detailing their life together in this fashion must have been a rejuvenating experience on its own. Letting go of any presumptions, Jacobs and a varied set of musicians create what they label “landscape pop.” And although Pain is a Reliable Signal is a whispering, folk-driven album, it branches out to encompass equal styles of pop and southern country.

“The Northern Bay” is quite honestly, one of the most absorbing, moving songs of the year. A piano-based, slow-moving, atmospheric dedication to his wife, Jacobs sings about how their life has been drastically altered because of her constant struggle. And as the song progresses, his voice merely shivers as he aches and hurts to get every word out. He whispers how he “isn’t getting any younger” and how she “falls asleep with [her] head on [his] shoulder” and how he is, frankly, “scared of getting any older.” It’s a broken, grave epilogue that ends with his somber promise of, “I will take your pain away.”

At first notice, the blend of instruments and crisp production makes everything point to a band being behind this music but it is all, unbelievably, Jacobs’ labor of love. He’s given everything he has into this album and it’s felt in every piano note, every hushed vocal and through all of the emotional music. One can only hope that things get better for his wife and until that day comes, she will have this elegant album to help cope.

Scarlet Shame Records

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