Jacob Whitesides Shows Great Potential On Debut ‘Why?’
Who’s the next hot, up-and-coming pop star? Jacob Whitesides. Whitesides delivers his debut album Why? independently via Double U Records. After listening to Why?, it’s surprising that Whitesides isn’t a major label artist – the kid’s “got it going on.” Why? may not be a landmark artistic statement per se, but it’s an album that clearly shows that he’s “got next.”
“Focus” kicks off Why pleasantly. Whitesides’ vocals are beautiful – he sounds effortless, with a magnificent tone. “Focus” isn’t a game changer, but it is a well-rounded pop record. The bridge provides contrast, keeping things interesting. Follow-up “Heartbeat” is energetic – full of spunk. While gimmicky, it’s fun, whether you’re a teen girl or pop music enthusiast of any age.
“She Ain’t Got a Thing” seems to embrace Whitesides’ Tennessee roots. It’s not a country song, but a pop song the borrows country cues. It’s an interesting amalgam of pop, electronic, and country, all said and done. It’s not necessarily a home run, but it’s alluring because it’s different.
“Jaded Love” shifts from country-infused pop to urban-infused pop. “Jaded Love” plays more to modern pop. It’s not ‘new’ conceptually, but Whitesides sounds fresh – The swag is intact. “Levitate” slackens the pace. He tackles the “he’s not good for you, I’ll treat you better” sentiment. Cliché, he sings this smooth jam both believably and exceptionally. The vocal production is magnificent.
“Bury Our Love”
“Bury Our Love” expectedly speeds up the tempo. Once more, country lends its influence. More than “She Ain’t Got a Thing,” Whitesides embraces country vocals. He eschews twang but indulges more stylistically. Arguably, “Bury Our Love” works better because of the fact that he “buys in.”
“Hold on Honey” is the second longest song from Why? (“Open Book” takes top honors). Other than slightly ambitious length, the mid-tempo pop ballad is respectable. “Hold on Honey” continues to showcase the proficiency of the singer.
He follows up with “Love Slow,” an even slower record. While the continual slow pace isn’t the most optimal choice, he continues to impress. The bass of his voice is showcased for the first time on the first verse. Title track “Why?” relies on its soulfulness. While a jolt in tempo wouldn’t have hurt, it’s difficult to knock this savvy number which is “chill,” yet packs a punch.
“Lovesick” is groovy and incredibly soulful with a throwback vibe throughout. Who knew that pop could successfully fuse jazz and retro-soul. Excellent production includes the use organ, guitar, background vocals, and drum programming. Whitesides showcases a fine set of pipes in which he never over-sings. The chorus is nothing short of infectious:
“Because I’m lovesick / and there ain’t no cure / ‘cause I keep on coming back for more / oh no, no, no (oh no, no, no) / I’m lovesick / guess I got the blues / doctor help I don’t know what to do”
“Lovesick” is the crème de la crème of Why?.
“Black and Blue” is ambitious, retaining the energy established by “Lovesick.” It doesn’t usurp the glory of the lovesickness, but it lays well. “You Told Me So” once more straddles pop and country. Again not explicitly country, there’s a hint, which should please the Nashville contingent. Country airplay is a possibility.
Penultimate record “Open Book” ranks among the best moments from Why?. The overall palette of sounds and production work is top-notch. A change of grooves sounds odd initially, but once it settles in, it gels perfectly. The melody shines. The Rufus Dipper Remix of “Focus” concludes Why?.
All in all, Why? is an enjoyable, successful debut from Jacob Whitesides. Vocally, throughout the album, Whitesides puts his game face on. After listening, it’s clear that as time progresses, this young musician should only grow riper with time. While Why? has its flaws, its triumphs and potential far outweigh any shortcomings.
Gems: “Focus,” “Levitate,” “Bury Our Love,” “Lovesick” & “Open Book”