The City Magazine Since 1975

Therapy Session

Therapy Session
June 2017

Folk singer and songwriter Avi Jacob is set to release another soul-baring EP this month

Last year, while opening a show for Dr. John at the Charleston Music Hall, singer-songwriter Avi Jacob performed “Pickup Truck,” which he’d written for his father, who passed away in 2010. “Afterward, this guy came up to me, bearded and dressed in camouflage. He said, ‘Man, that song about your father...’ and he had tears in his eyes,” recalls Jacob. “Outside of that environment, he and I would probably have nothing in common, yet here he was crying and telling me he liked my song. I thought that was pretty beautiful.”

Almost all of Jacob’s tunes pack an emotional wallop, and the five on Surrender, due out this month, are no exception. “These songs are extremely personal, maybe a little too personal,” Jacob laughs of the EP, which he recorded with Simone Felice (who produced The Lumineers’ latest album) in a Catskills barn. “Some people go to therapists; I write songs.”

After six years living in Charleston, Jacob moved in 2016 to Northampton, Massachusetts, where he shares custody of his eight-year-old son with the boy’s mother. “I play music for him every night that I have him, to help him fall asleep,” notes Jacob. It’s a practice that has yielded songs including “Pickup Truck.”

Frequent return trips to Charleston serve as writing time, too. Jacob struck upon the leadoff track, “New England,” when he was driving south from Boston and saw a tractor trailer with a bumper-sticker that read “Deliver Me Safely.” It inspired him to write “about a girl, and about my son, and about missing people and things,” he says. Jacob’s sorrowful vocals call to mind heartbreakingly beautiful songs by Gram Parsons, who had a masterful way of blending rock, folk, and country—something at which the young artist is also adept.

Check for news of a tour stop in the Holy City, and begin preparing yourself for a truly soul-baring performance.


Photograph by (Jacob) Andrew Cebulka