Review: Kate Jacobs – Home Game (Small Pond, 2010)
The girlishness in Kate Jacobs’ voice has always been perplexing. She sounds relaxed navigating the bossa-nova of “On My Monitor,” gliding along Astrud Gilberto-cool as she recounts the news of a young girl’s abduction; the everydayness of her delivery underlines the bland reaction one develops to the incessant nature of Internet-delivered instant alerts. Only at song’s end, as Jacob recoils from the constant provocation, does she react. But her reaction is to the news assault rather than the human one. Her own children take center stage for “All the Time in the World” and the album’s title track, but though her words of those of a mother, her voice retains its young tone. She continues to sound youthful as she cranks up the Kirsty MacColl-styled pop-rock “Make Him Smile,” and slides into the role of a jazz chanteuse for the ballad “A Sligo Lad.”
Six years since her last album, itself the product of a six-year hiatus during which she married and had children, Jacobs wrestles with the plenty of family life and the absence of solitary time, mutual attraction that doesn’t live up to the storybooks, and the ways in which children make time both stop and race. She’s a keen observer of her own life, dearly missing her years as a touring musician in “Rey Ordonez,” wistfully remembering the contrast of a cramped touring van and the imagination’s space of a baseball game on the radio. She recounts the joys and trials of parenting and marriage, but most deeply savors the rest that finally comes at the end of the day. Her longtime musical partner, Dave Schramm, adds blossoming notes of dobro, and surrounds Jacobs’ with guitars, drums, strings and backing vocals that turn her lyrics into a warm letter from a dear friend.