|Photo: Shervin Lainez|
Hi-Rise Ranch is LA-based musician, Pi Jacobs’ 6th record and the second time pairing with folks from her 2013 release, Urbanicana. The 6 song CD brings back producer (and keyboard addition), Eugene Toale (Kanye West, Brandy, Mya) along with Beastie Boy’s drummer Fredo Ortiz, Jaime Bishop (Francis Dunnery) on bass and Kel Pritchard on background vocals. This time around, Jacobs plays all of the guitars and there is the addition of Peter Adams on keyboards and Rita Soultanian on background vocals. Hi-Rise Ranch continues with the sound of lusty soul-driven Americana music with a straight up rock and roll punch.
Jacobs, who wrote 5 of the songs on the record (the one and only cover is Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”), credits her producer for the strength of the sound on Hi-Rise Ranch. “I feel like meeting Eugene Toale has really helped me find my truest voice to date and the response has been great.” In the last 2 years the artist has toured the UK and Holland, hit both coasts on tour (including a stop in Austin for last year’s SXSW conference) and signed a publishing deal with Little Brother Music, a well-respected publisher in Los Angeles.
Jacobs is an Angeleno by way of San Francisco and a few years in New York City. Having to relocate for her husband’s job, Jacobs says, “Like any good Northern Californian, I came to L.A. kicking and screaming, but I changed my tune pretty quick, as LA is a creative environment.” With the releases of The Curse of the Songwriter (2007) and Fire Horse Girl (2011) Jacobs’ records were being noticed and licensed by TV and film. Her audience began to expand to not only include rockers who admired her guitar playing, but also pre-teens who would hear her music on shows like MTV’s “The Real World and ABC’s “Pretty Little Liars”.
A product of Haight-Ashbury hippies and from a mixed race family, Jacobs had a creative bohemian upbringing. “Growing up was wonderful and really hard”, she says, “addiction, poverty, moving around, but always music and always art—always.” Surrounded by various music while young from Bach and Jimmy Cliff to Linda Ronstadt and Fleetwood Mac—Jacobs’ Mom would notice that Pi crawled up to the speaker to rest her head whenever Carole King played and gifted Jacobs her very first album, Tapestry. “There’s a picture of me hugging it,” she says.
The heavy influence of 70’s L.A. singer-songwriter and country/pop is evident on Hi-Rise Ranch. “Want To Want To” has Jacobs' strong vocals racing the album out of the gate; a smoldering song that the artist says is about being afraid to go for it. The video for this song was released on January 20th with the single released the following Tuesday. “I’ve begun to make my first-ever music videos,” said the artist, “it’s an exciting new medium for me—mini-movies of my songs.”
“Starting Now” is a song tracing the road to recovery. Written for the 3 women that were abducted by Ariel Castro, Jacobs was saddened by a psychiatrist’s evaluation that the women would probably “never fully recover” and the song is the artist’s wish for the women to regain their sense of happiness.
The beat-laden, “Icy Road” was written as a reminder of staying the course, even when it doesn’t feel good, comfortable or normal. “The Train” was written about her husband’s Grandma Mini whose husband took ill when they were young. Along with their two sons, they traveled to Los Angeles from Brooklyn for a treatment. Unfortunately, he passed away while in California and Mini had to save up to get back to Brooklyn. “The song is about the trains we take to vastly different lives,” says Jacobs, “and our hopes for a better life in a new land.”
“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” is a Led Zeppelin song and the only cover on the record. “I’ve been singing the song for so long that I totally forgot how Robert Plant sang it,” said Jacobs. “One day I had my 2 back-up singers harmonize over me and it was magic! I think of it as a duel lead with each of them.” The song has been released as a single on iTunes and has a beautiful video to go along with it, directed by Charlene Bagcal.
Hi-Rise Ranch ends with the rich and textured “All For You”, a song that captures the feeling and overwhelming joy of love and intimacy. While Urbanicana had more traditional song structures to it, Hi-Rise Ranch has more of a ‘jam’ feel and open structure to the songs (although the hooks still remain). “I think (Hi-Rise Ranch) is a little less pop-sounding and maybe breathes more, like a live show would,” said Jacobs.
An accomplished rock guitar player and multi-instrumentalist and a lyricist who can create honest emotion, Pi Jacobs credits her crazy and nomadic childhood for keeping her heart open to experiences that turn into songs. “I’m grateful, and my heart is open from all of these experiences, but music has been the one thing I’ve always relied on, my rock and cornerstone. I just want to share, connect and be part of the human experience through my music.”
You can purchase this great EP from here or here.