Here’s a name that hasn’t shown up around Extra Chill in a while: Avi Jacob. The folk songwriter once lived and performed music in Charleston, but has since moved to Northhampton, Massachusetts with his son. For a while he was touring and playing music, and now he’s farming. Last week, he released a new EP called Preservation. It’s his first new collection of songs since 2018’s Surrender EP, released when Avi still lived in Charleston.
Preservation is an expression of raw emotion in a very direct way, and the songs are just as pretty as the marigolds on the cover. The EP weaves itself gently between humanity and mother nature and often draws metaphors between the two, all the while expressing pain, loss, and the need to let go. Avi seems not to hold anything back, but rather sings each word with a deliberate intent and with a strong feeling behind it.
The production is just as raw, with little to no studio embellishments, and each note that Avi strums on his acoustic guitar is played with the same deliberate intent as the lyrics. There are some other instruments used throughout, like an organ and a trumpet, but they serve more as accents, and front and center we have Avi’s vocals and guitar.
This is going to seem like very high praise to anybody who reads Extra Chill consistently, but the songs on Preservation have a Wilco-esque feel to them, applied both to the songwriting and the overarching vibe. “Butterfly”, for example, has a guitar riff part throughout that sounds eerily similar to the one that Jeff Tweedy plays on “Muzzle of Bees”, particularly as performed solo and acoustic on Together at Last.
Title track “Preservation”, on the other hand, does not sound like Wilco, but rather the lyrics call directly upon “Reservations” off Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. “We all have our reservations,” Avi sings, “But when I look in your eyes / It’s clear as the morning sunrise / that you are my preservation.” The song is about feeling safe with a particular person who is now gone from your life, and reflecting on how you miss their presence. And you’ve got reservations about so many things, but not about that particular person.
It isn’t just that Avi Jacob sounds like Wilco, it’s that Avi Jacob sounds like an honest songwriter. There are several other comparisons that could be made here but at the root of each and every one of them you will find honest, personal, and direct songwriting.
Closing track, “So Long”, sums up the subject matter of the rest of the EP and puts a strong end cap on this brief but strong emotional expression. The song is a goodbye letter to the love of your life, who died while the two of you were estranged, but you were still deeply in love and hoping for reconciliation. When you hear this song, everything else just falls into place and makes sense.
If you enjoy Avi Jacob’s new EP Preservation as much as I did then you might also want to check out his B-Side Session cover of “Hard Drugs” by SUSTO. Listen below.