Finding your voice isn’t easy. Jacob Slade is figuring it out.
Those immediate post-college years can often be when we untangle who we really are. Many of us stop moving down the scholastic conveyor belt. We pick up a trade, a job, a creative project. We start a new phase of our journey and do a little self-discovery along the way.
Milwaukee’s Jacob Greenberg unearthed a layer of self during this potential transformative period by taking extra time for his latest project as “Jacob Slade.” On new album Soft Spoken, the self-taught home-recorder uncovered, dug into and amped up his own understated qualities.
Greenberg’s third record (and second of 2023) offers the listener vignettes and musings wrapped in found sounds, and close-and-cozy production work. Talking about the sonic appeal during our recent interview, he shared: “Over time, I have gained an appreciation of getting a well-produced sound that's pleasant to listen to, but also something that has aspects of that lo-fi sound where you can hear some creaks on the guitar [or] maybe like a squeaky floorboard.”
Influences like Richy Mitch & The Coal Miners, Bon Iver, Noah Kahan, Father John Misty, Adam Melchor and even Pink Floyd peep through Soft Spoken, which hovers questioningly on the mixed feelings of growing up, pushed forward by the fleeting feet of time.
“[Soft Spoken is] an album that is kind of the culmination of growing up,” he said. “I've been going through that ‘after college’ transitional phase where you're in the in-between of being an adult and still like feeling like a kid. I think that music has always been an outlet for me to be able to be more honest about how I feel. The title of the album sort of relates to that for me — just a lifelong culmination of a lot of different feelings, stuff I'm figuring out as life goes on.”
Greenberg underlines this culmination as he sings on the title track:
When you’re soft spoken
And you’ve got a lot to say
But you hold it all in
Well, it eats away
And it’s all in the open
Your hopes and your fears
Controlled by your caution
You’d prefer to stand clear
Greenberg will take the chance to get things out in the open at a celebratory release show for Soft Spoken in The Back Room @ Colectivo this Saturday. He says playing one of the venue’s final shows (it’s scheduled to close by the end of the year) has him feeling grateful.
“I think it's just been really cool to see [The Back Room] expand into this total hub for local music,” he said. “There’s just been so many local shows there in the last year, year and a half. At least for me, I feel like it’s a cool kind of send-off to a place that has been very gracious to local artists. It’s cool that Pabst Theater Group in general — and The Back Room more specifically— has just given a lot of chances to local artists to have a big platform to share their music.”
You can listen to our entire conversation (and hear a few clips from the new album) using the player at the top of the page, or go the video route below. Soft Spoken will be available on streaming platforms and on Jacob Slade's Bandcamp page this Friday, Oct. 13; and he'll celebrate the new album Oct. 14 in The Back Room with Sleepy Gaucho and Smushie. Doors are at 7 p.m.