A few days ago, Los Angeles-based indie-pop singer-songwriter Daniel Blake released a new EP, Jakarta, five tracks revolving around the heartbreak concept.
Gorgeously wrought, Jakarta includes the musical gifts of Bill Lefler (drums, piano, synth), who also produced the EP, Paul Rede (guitar), and Daniel Blake (guitar, vocals). While growing up in Arizona, Daniel’s parents listened to artists like Carole King, The Beatles, James Taylor, and Van Morrison. By proximity, so did Daniel. Later influences comprised Tom Petty, David Gray, The Postal Service, and Band of Horses.
When in his teens, Daniel put his efforts into putting together bands, but it never worked out. Drifting away from music, it wasn’t until he moved to L.A. to work construction and go to college that he returned to the warm embrace of music.
As he drove to and from job sites, the music arrived, gliding through his mind. Upon visiting The Hotel Café, he realized he could not escape his passion for music. Circle Mountain, his debut EP, dropped in 2018, followed by releasing a single, “Here With Me,” featured in the CW’s series, Roswell, New Mexico.
“Heartbreaker,” a homage to Tom Petty, opens the EP, riding a soft, glistening guitar atop an easy beat. An elegant piano and mellow string imbue the tune with cashmere textures as Daniel’s delicious voice gives the lyrics warm compassion. Smooth and glossy, it’s an affluent, captivating voice.
Conjuring up revelations of Christopher Cross, “Goin Home” rolls out on creamy filaments of colour, providing the perfect sonic matrix for Daniel’s sumptuous tones. The title track discloses the tale of a waning relationship akin to the sinking of Jakarta's city. Daniel’s sublime vocals reveal the pathos of the gradual decline of affection.
“Where’d You Go” relates the sad vanishing of a couple’s relationship from both perspectives. Burbling with melancholy and painful nostalgia, the song uncovers the desolate vestiges of a once-upon-a-time love.
Explaining the genesis of “Freeway,” the last track, Daniel shares, “’ Freeway’ was inspired by the trailer parks I would see on my long drives back to Phoenix. For two young lovers in a small town who want nothing more than to get away, the freeway becomes a symbol of freedom and hope.”
With Jakarta, Daniel Blake offers an exquisite EP, lush, evocative, and touching.