Jacob Banks’ “Village”: a Unique and Potent Debut Album

English singer and songwriter Jacob Banks. Photo by Ricky Bassman/CSM/REX/Shutterstock (9656098g)

“The title refers to the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. I wanted to pay homage to all those things that make me the musician I am. From my African side to British youth culture, my love for soul, gospel, jazz and all those things. I was born in Nigeria and grew up in the UK, with heavy influences from both sides of the pond. I’ve lived exactly half of my life on both sides, and wanted to celebrate the magic from both” – Jacob Banks.

There’s no better way to introduce Banks’ bold debut album than with his own words. It’s a wonderful fusion of a whole range of genres and the result truly is an album which feels like a celebration of culture. Several artists were criticized in 2018 for borrowing elements from different styles and cultures without crediting them. Here, Jacob Banks does not borrow, he shares, and pays homage to his influences.

The album’s opener, “Chainsmoking”, is a sassy and soulful track with a tasty mix of R&B flavors. Similarly, “Be Good To Me” features R&B artist Seinabo Sey and adds an ultra-modern twist to the record.

“Love Ain’t Enough” also offers an interesting mix of sounds. You can hear Jamaican dancehall influences bump up against UK garage and Jacob’s deliciously soulful vocals tie the whole thing together in a way that’s not just pleasing, but genuinely quite innovative.

In songs like “Caroline”, he slows things back down. He solemnly sings: “Overboard, goin’ under / Still I’m dancin’ with the tide.” The track is fairly stripped back in comparison to the rest of the album and the emotion in his voice can be more prominently heard as a result. While “Love Ain’t Enough” is fun and different, tracks like “Caroline” are a lot more powerful.

The album closer “Peace Of Mind” is just Jacob and the piano and is definitely one of the strongest tracks on the album. It is potent, beautiful and successfully shows off just how talented Jacob is.

As an artist, Banks is in a privileged position in that he can now quite freely choose which musical direction he wants to take in the future. For a debut album, Village is quite remarkable and does not sound confused, but offers an eclectic range of sounds. Consequently, his next move as an artist is quite unpredictable.