We first heard about Jake Blocker at the beginning of 2019 when he released his first taste of commercial music, crooning out a rendition of the song “Just Between You and Me” that Charley Pride made popular in 1966. Along with a stellar voice specifically tailored for country, and a strict adherence to a traditional country sound, you couldn’t help but be struck surprised over what you were hearing from a young man who was just 14-year-old.
When you find a performer that young and that talented, it’s not just the entertainment value they posses at that moment, but the possibility of what they could develop into as time goes on that compels you. But of course, singing old country songs is one thing, even with a voice as naturally inclined to it as Jake Blacker’s. Writing them and contributing something original to the country legacy yourself takes an entirely different set of skills, drive, and talent.
Well apparently this young man from small town south Texas is well up to the task. Just releasing his debut record I Keep Forgetting, the cover art may look a little homsespun and pedestrian, but the music most certainly is not. Writing three of the eight total songs by himself, and co-writing a couple more with collaborator Jim Newcombe, the now 16-year-old is announcing himself as a full package traditional country performer from the new generation that you should definitely be paying attention to.
And when we say “traditional” country, don’t think of the close approximations we’re so used to hearing in the modern era. Don’t even think George Strait. Think Joey Allcorn or Jake Penrod for modern comparisons, meaning music directly influenced from the catalogs of Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, and Ernest Tubb, but rendered in fresh recordings and new songs that pay these legacies forward.
Not to overshadow what Jake Blocker has accomplished here—and at what’s still a formative age to be singing traditional country—but the music of I Keep Forgetting is just as impressive, with fiddle and steel guitar perfectly cut and tailored to the style of songs Jake sings and writes, welling up all those nostalgic and wholesome feelings like only the best of country music can. And along with writing and singing, apparently Blocker is proficient with with guitar, and is even learning how to play steel guitar himself.
Sure, if you want to scrutinize, Jake Blocker isn’t reinventing the wheel, and the songcraft is more along the lines of fresh interpretations of common country lyrical tropes as opposed to breaking new ground. But again, at 16-years-old, Jake is still far ahead of many artists twice his age when it comes to making actual country music. His songs of finding love and losing it, and dealing with heartbreak are relevant and true to him as a young man as they have been for country performers for going on a century.
But really when you have a voice that sounds this good and music to match it, not much else matters. No, there’s nothing revolutionary or hip about what Jake Blocker is doing. But that’s why you flock to traditional country—to imbibe in something familiar and warm feeling, especially in strange times or in moments of heartbreak. That’s what Jake Blocker and I Keep Forgetting are here for.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)
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Purchase Jake Blocker’s I Keep Forgetting