Jake La Botz
They’re Coming For Me
Hi-Style / Free Dirt
Jake La Botz’s music is almost as eccentric as his life. La Botz was a juvenile delinquent, punk rock busker who was tutored in the art of the blues by an old Maxwell Street performer in Chicago. He makes records, plays in bars and shows up in movies as an actor. Maybe you saw him on True Detective playing Conway Twitty. Jake’s music is rooted in blues and Americana with absolutely no fidelity to tradition. He’s happy warping expectations, seriously making music that doesn’t take anything too seriously.
They’re Coming For Me covers a lot of emotional territory, from Noir paranoia to absurdist comedy. “Snow Angel” is a rather bleak story of petty criminals on the run. The lines “Detroit coming into view/ Skeletons stretching out to the River Rouge” reminds me of seeing the ghost of Michigan Central Station coming into view as I drove into town. The song captures some of the sadness of being lost and abandoned like the station. “They’re Coming For Me” is a dark story of paranoia and conspiracy. The song opens “I left this note beside the bed / In case I disappear / in case I turn up dead.” La Botz sounds a little like Tom Waits being a fatalistic curmudgeon on “Terrible Game.”
Like Eric Idle at the end of Life of Brian, La Botz sees the bright side of life, or at least it’s absurdity. “Nashville, Nashville” combines all the trivializing comments non-musicians make to working musicians. “You’re a musician / Tell men what do you play / What kind of job do you do during the day?” Another song starts out like it’s going to be a pop gospel song. The character in the song cheerily sings. “I found a nail in the road today and I thought about Jesus / I picked it up and put it away and I thought about Jesus / It would be a shame to catch a flat tire out here in the rain.” What starts out sounding all Kumbaya takes a dark turn a few chorus later when it turns out our Jesus contemplating buddy is an armed bank robber. I dare you not to crack a smile when you hear Jake doing his best Dr. John drawl the talking blues, “Hey Bigfoot.” You know with all the craziness in the news these days, people aren’t spending as much time on cryptozoology. Bigfoot laments, “I’m trying to get back in the news / I’ll do interviews.”
The bonus track, “This Comb” is a very over the top gospel blues song. It feels like Jake is taking the standard sales job interview question, “sell me this (insert trivial item here)” to it’s most hyperbolic extreme. This is a mighty good comb. It had magic powers and I got it mass produced in China, just for you!”