The Internet has made geography far less critical to the development of a musician’s sound, freeing the artist to live more or less wherever they choose and still draw ideas from a musical locale they may not necessarily call home. So, it’s largely in reference to a prior generation’s art that we retain these notions of East or West Coast hip-hop, Brit pop, Chicago house or Muscle Shoals rock and soul.
For Jake Moon, a folk act consisting of Caroline Corrigan, Chris Tenerowicz and Eric Tobin, the musical touchstone is Laurel Canyon, the LA neighborhood known for birthing harmony-rich acoustic music by the like of CSNY, Joni Mitchell and more recently Father John Misty. Until now, Corrigan and Tenerowicz have largely dealt in Capital Region signifiers, the former with baroque pop bands Que Caro and the Red Lions, the latter with prog/post-hardcore band Aficionado. Since these prior acts have gone their separate ways, Tenerowicz has moved to LA and made the acoustic guitar, mandolin and banjo his focus, so the Laurel Canyon influence isn’t entirely coincidental.
His deft fingerpicking provides the bedrock for Jake Moon’s debut EP, especially opener “Come Find Me,” which receives its emotional atmospherics from cello and backing vocals. But it’s Corrigan’s vocals that figure centrally to this and all the band’s work. The group describe their music as “storytelling folk,” so the imagistic and narrative elements of the songs benefit from Corrigan’s unadorned approach. In this way, it’s less Mitchell and her acrobatic vocal flights than the sturdy delivery of a Gillian Welch or EmmyLou Harris that comes through.
While some contemporary Laurel Canyon nostalgics strive for that brand of homespun whimsy with gauzy reverb and overly baroque mythologizing, Jake Moon are tasteful with their pallete of backing vocals, light with the studio decorations and concise when the tracks take rockist turns, as toward the end of “Fairlawn.” They don’t flaunt the presence of autoharp or attempt to weave harmonies into Oriental rugs. Utilitarian claps and stomps drive “Oh, Honey” and “I Resent the Fact You Died,” neither seducing nor repelling the ear with elements of Americana that have in recent years been worn until threadbare. The result is immensely approachable and imminently listenable.