Sometimes when you are listening to a certain song or album you can sense the exact feelings being conveyed by the musicians involved. When I listen to Simon and Garfunkel’s “America,” I can close my eyes and picture life crossing the country on a bus back in 1960s. Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here gave listeners an inside look at their feelings towards their friend and former band mate Syd Barrett. The same could be said about Pain Is A Reliable Signal by singer-songwriter Sam Jacob’s The Flying Change. The album tells the story of Erica, Jacob’s wife, and her battle with a debilitating spinal condition that leaves her in constant pain and leaves Sam and Erica’s relationship in near ruins.
The 10 tracks that tell this heartbreaking story hit you like a ton of bricks with their intense emotional tone. Jacob’s voice — especially on the first track of the album, “Broken Bow” — comes across sounding a bit like Leonard Cohen while being backed up by a beautiful choir of female voices. “If You See Something” lightens the mood with playful sounds of ukuleles and scattered horns; all while “St. Mary’s” rock distortion edge throws listeners a curve ball in the midst of all the somber tones.
By the end of the album, you feel as if you watched a movie. You truly feel Jacob’s pain and regret. There’s something brutally honest and haunting about the collection of songs featured here. They will pull at your emotions and leave you in a state of awe. Pain Is A Reliable Signal will not only please the ears but it will also leave your imagination reeling as it rides this emotional musical roller-coaster of pain, love, and fear.
(Scarlet Shame Records, PO Box 20680, Park West Station, New York, NY 10025)