News, Views, Happiness Pursued

Jakob Battick

by | Nov 5, 2018

Jakob Battick
To Be Born Again & Again
Wilt Press

There’s a bit on Late Night with Seth Meyers where Fred Armisen tries to guess the plot of a book based solely on its cover. I can’t help but attempt to play this game with Jakob Battick’s debut solo LP. I mean, here’s a guy in full bed-in-Lennon cosplay, with flowers in his hands, his body double-exposed to imply a wider understanding of existence. Pair it with a title that references reincarnation, and I’m fully expecting a self-indulgent tale of a white guy’s Buddhist awakening. But, as I’m sure some sports figure has said at some point, that’s why you play the game. To Be Born Again & Again is much darker than advertised. It’s a wide-eyed, booze-soaked, drone-folk concept album about what drives us to think spiritually — grief, loneliness, things you think you saw on drugs. The Bangor native’s sound, which he has honed over the last decade in groups like Afraid, is somewhere between Nick Drake and Sunn O))) — tender strumming writ large and slowed to a crawl, buoyed by cushions of reverb and empathetic pedal steel. It’s music that hinges almost completely on atmosphere, and that puts quite a burden on a lyricist. Battick, who moved to Northern California in 2015, is up to the challenge. “I’m climbing up to Cruces, New Mexico / With your ashes in my hand,” he recounts on the opening “Brand New Thunderbird Blues.” The song is gentle and optimistic, referencing the natural world in an attempt to casually add death to its list of offerings. But this feeling can’t hold. A few tracks later, on a cover of The Flatlanders’ “Tonight I’m Gonna Go Downtown,” the spiritual uplift starts to require artificial support. “Don’t Die On Me Now” is not an appeal to a loved one, but an internal struggle. And on the final song, it all falls apart. “I wanna get blind drunk / And try to talk to god,” Battick admits. It’s the “try” that makes it — an admission of disbelief smack dab in the middle of a desperate plea for salvation.

Related Posts

Anni Clark

Anni Clark

The Maine singer/songwriter poignantly asks “Will It Ever Be the Same”

Snaex

Snaex

Existential musings and alt-country ballads on The Nameless and the Named

Subscribe

We are supported by advertisers and readers, like you, who value independent local journalism. For the cost of one pint of Maine craft beer each month, you can help us publish more content and keep it free for everyone.