The 21-year-old blues-rock phenom from Albion boasts a more mature sound on tracks featured for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted songs by Au Gres, Fake Baseball, Les Creatif, Y-Not, DL Rossi & more.
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Presenting the “new” Jake Kershaw.
The 21-year-old Albion guitarist known for his virtuosic, instrumental prowess has carved out a new self-titled, full-length studio album that pushes musical boundaries well beyond his usual blues-rock roots.
He’s already shopping this fresh approach to more than two dozen record labels with a mission of spreading word about this reshaped Kershaw across the country and beyond.
“This album was made with the intent to show it to everybody. I want people to hear kind of the new version of Jake Kershaw,” he said of the project recorded at Grand Haven’s Third Coast Recording Co. and produced by respected music industry sound whiz Bill Chrysler.
“I changed a lot on this album. It might scare some folks and it might impress some of ‘em. … I went for a more open and authentic Jake for this release, which has kind of matured my sound in a way that sounds more modern and somewhat contemporary.”
Kershaw, who first made a splash as a teenage guitar phenom sharing stages with blues greats such as Jonny Lang, Tab Benoit, Larry McCray and Albert Cummings, spent nearly three years writing and recording the 11-track album, which features nine original songs.
And while blues-rock will “always be a part of me,” he said, the new collection also veers into pop, country, rootsy rock and more – likely appealing to younger audiences as well as older blues fans.
“It’s a measure of all different things,” he said. “The album is a bit of a new direction for me, but one that feels substantially more comfortable and genuine. I wasn’t trying to write for a particular style or theme for this album, it just sort of came out in chunks of songs over time.”
For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, Kershaw debuted two new tracks from this collection – “Never Not Gonna Love You” (written by Bill Whyte) and “Trip in My Mind” (Johnson Jay). Scroll down to listen to those songs and full radio show podcast, with the opening track, “Lose My Mind” here.
LISTEN: “Lose My Mind,” Jake Kershaw
With the pandemic limiting live shows over the past two years, Kershaw spent time in Nashville working with other writers and musicians, as well as honing arrangements “to get exactly what I wanted out of every song,” he said.
“I was able to find what worked for me,” he added. “Every song was a new story. Every song was a new thing.”
AN ALL-STAR CAST IN THE STUDIO FOR A MILESTONE RECORDING
Kershaw also leaned on some acclaimed West Michigan artists to join him in the studio, including drummer Scott Pellegrom, keyboardists Dutcher Snedeker and Joe Hettinga, bassists Justin Avdek and Robert Pace and saxophonist Dana Robbins, with Kevin Kozel engineering and co-producing the tracks.
In the album notes, Chrysler points out they even re-recorded some vocals “as Jake’s voice had changed over that time” of pulling the project together.
“I am as proud of this recording as anything I have done in over four decades in the music industry,” Chrysler maintained.
Beyond securing a “good record deal” for the album, Kershaw aims to tour as much as possible in 2022, with upcoming shows Jan. 29 at the Blues Jam for the Battle Creek Haven of Rest and Feb. 5 at Kellogg Arena for the Que the Creek barbecue festival.
For the summer, he already has shows lined up in June for Rockford’s Rogue River Blues Series, July for the Battle Creek Field of Flight balloon festival and August for the Port Sanilac Blues Festival.
“I’d like to have a solid touring career as well as an ever-evolving recording career, so as not to get complacent with one style,” he said.
“And I would like to continue my writing journey so at to better connect with my true identity, not only as a musician, but as a person.”
To that end, the self-titled album – currently available only at live shows or through Kershaw himself – takes a “more song-oriented” approach reflecting Kershaw’s “journey through new music.”
As he puts it: “This is kind of the new Jake.”
In addition to showcasing Kershaw’s new music, the Jan. 21 episode of Local Spins on WYCE – which spotlights local and regional music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – debuted new music from Fake Baseball, DL Rossi, Au Gres, Les Creatif, Travis Atkinson, Grace Theisen, Emma Bieniewicz and Y-Not, as well as tracks by G’itis Baggs and Larry McCray (this week’s musician’s pick by Kershaw). Listen to the radio show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (1/21/22)
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