In the vast universe of music, the world is Jacob Miller’s oyster.
The songwriter has garnered praise and significant exposure after an appearance on NBC’s The Voice, which has naturally helped boost his artistic career. Pop star Nick Jonas complimented Miller for his efforts in creating his own authentic sound, saying that Miller is, “connected to every word he sings”. Songwriting legend James Taylor has spoken similarly of Miller stating that, “He really has something”. Awfully nice praise from a few A-listers of differing generations.
Miller continues to prove himself and has further developed his modern Americana sound in his sophomore album, Around My Head, which was released March 18th.
The new record is indeed an inside look around Miller’s mind. “‘Around My Head’, feels to me like a personal letter written to each respective listener”, says the artist. “It is my hope that people can find themselves and their own story in between the folds of this record.” Miller discusses many adversities that all people face throughout his album, such as handling relationships, dealing with hardship, and fighting to keep learning as you move forward in your life.
The opening track, “New Places,” begins very calmly, with Miller softly playing his guitar during his introspective first verse. Toward the latter part of the verse, he sings, “It’s a ‘look right in the mirror’ type of situation / If you’re the only person holding yourself back from going new places”. The chorus begins with a crescendo as well as an entrance of beautiful harmonies, making “New Places” a beautifully anthemic track of self-love and not being the person that is holding yourself back. The end of the chorus features a cinematic trumpet hook from Charlie Porter––music educator, composer and of course, trumpeter from Portland, Oregon.
With its picturesque descriptions of landscapes in the first verse and its fleeting choruses, it is easy to see why Miller’s “Leave” has become such a fan favorite. The track describes the blissful feeling of being alone with your partner and escaping the troubles of the outside world. The driving beat in this song is held by the pizzicato string playing that magically transports the listener into the picture-perfect beach scenes that Miller is describing. The lyrical standout in the chorus is the lines before the hook: “We can drive into the night / And take a walk on the wild side / It’s you and it’s me so let’s leave”. Due to its attention from fans with its 13k streams on Spotify, “Leave” will have its own music video that is set to debut tomorrow, March 25th.
After a solid listen through, it’s quite easy to see why the title track, “Around My Head,” is the title track of the album. Miller speaks honestly about how important it is to stay positive while fighting life’s adversaries. In “Around My Head”, Miller sounds like his most authentic self in this song, with his rhythmic and whimsical guitar playing accompanied by jazzy chords. Lyrical standouts include: “Keep these two feet to the ground / To rest and to fight / To dodge the darkness as it flies … around my head.”
Ah, sweet nostalgia. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of remembering what it’s like to be a kid again, and even better when you add a modern twist to it. Miller achieves this concept and more in his cover of “It’s You I Like” from the classic children’s TV show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, for his final track. Miller’s smooth jazzy take on this already sweet song makes it perfect for first dances at weddings, or as a song to send to somebody that you love. With his ability to combine both feelings of nostalgia and love, Miller’s cover is sure to be a tearjerker.
The introspective and poignant 9-track album that is Around My Head is an exceptional sonic display from Jacob Miller, and it’s easy to understand Taylor’s and Jonas’ praise of the rising songwriter.