The Storyteller with an Old Soul
NASHVILLE – This weeks Nashville Pick is Jake Ybarra and his single Late November – “It can be hard for an artist to pinpoint when the muse first struck and launched them into a creative life,” muses 25-year-old Jake Ybarra. Hailing from Harlingen, Texas, Ybarra (pronounced “e-BAR-a”) was born into a household where music flowed through his veins. With a mother who was a classically trained pianist, a father who was a semi-professional horn player, and guitar-playing brothers, Jake was surrounded by melodies and harmonies from an early age.
When Ybarra was eight, his family relocated to Greenville, South Carolina, and it was there that music truly left an indelible mark on him. Growing up in a Southern Baptist environment, Ybarra found himself singing in various quartets and boys choirs, even performing alongside the Greenville Symphony. It was during these early experiences that he honed his ability to listen and discovered the capabilities of his own voice.
However, at that point in his life, Ybarra’s ambitions were firmly rooted in the world of baseball rather than the stage. It wasn’t until he turned 15, the perfect age for delving deeper into music, that his dreams took a different path. Jake joined a series of rock bands in school, passionately covering the works of guitar-heavy artists like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
But as Ybarra entered college at Furman University, his focus started to shift towards storytelling and creating music that bore his own unique signature. “I found myself listening less to rock bands and more to lyricists,” Ybarra recollects. “The first ones that really got to me were Jason Isbell’s ‘Southeastern’ and The Freewheeling Bob Dylan. Until then I didn’t realize how sad songs could be, but they could also be beautiful at the same time. That led me to Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, James McMurtry, John Prine, and Lucinda Williams.”
Armed with a degree in Political Science and Government, including an internship at the European Parliament in Brussels, Ybarra turned his full attention to songwriting. In 2020, he took advantage of the unique circumstances presented by the pandemic and embarked on what he affectionately calls his “pandemic project.” Ybarra recorded a four-song EP titled “Basement Songs” and shared it with the world via Instagram.
The release generated significant buzz, resulting in a management deal and an opportunity to create his breathtaking debut album, “Something In The Water.” Collaborating with producer William Gawley and a stellar band including drummer Billy Thomas, bassist Dow Tomlin, guitarist David Flint, and keyboardist Dane Bryant, Ybarra crafted a 10-track collection that showcases his storytelling prowess and highlights his warm baritone.
Something In The Water
The album features Jake’s first two streaming tracks, the wistful opener “Late November” and the upcoming radio single, the guitar-driven roots-rocker “BloodFire.” Additionally, Ybarra paints vivid portraits through his songs. From the couple trapped in an uneasy romance in “Long Winter” to the rambunctious party guy in the rockabilly workout “A Whole Lot To Remember,” from the homeowner stumbling upon a century-old love story in “No Reason Or Right” to the unsettled traveler haunted by the memory of lost love in “Savannah’s Song,” each track offers a captivating glimpse into Ybarra’s incisive storytelling.
Ybarra’s lyrics are evocative and emotionally charged, reflecting a wisdom beyond his years. His narratives draw comparisons not only to his songwriting heroes but also to his favorite authors such as George Saunders, Stephen Vincent Benet, and Ernest Hemingway.
Armed with these heartfelt tales on “Something In The Water,” Jake Ybarra captivates audiences, leaving them moved and emotionally stirred. “It is very gratifying when I get on stage and I see people reacting emotionally,” he says. “I know they’re into the words as much as the music.”
Management: Michelle Robertson / email@example.com
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