David W. Jacobsen may be a seasoned songwriter and performer—as he’s been in the music industry for 15 years now—and a graduate of Berklee College of Music, but don’t mistake him for your typical folk artist. Rather, Jacobsen gives us humorously realistic tracks that “combine poetry, satire and narrative storytelling.” With four albums already under his belt, Jacobsen debuts his most recent work, Begin the Chagrin. A set of 20 songs all equally as humorous as its predecessors, this album “presents a range of noble, relatable, pitiable and revolting characters” who are either “dealing with disappointment or causing it for someone else.” With this combination of ridiculous humor and relatability, Jacobsen creates a whole new genre of music that is sure to get every listener chuckling and thinking back on their own experiences.
Standouts are “Thanksgiving in West Paterson” and “Christmas in East Paterson.” A satire of the dread of spending holidays with the family, “Thanksgiving in West Paterson” presents a series of unfortunate events, from family food fights to getting arrested. It is cheekily followed by the refrain, “Happy Thanksgiving.”
Along a similar vein, in “Christmas in East Paterson” Jacobsen croons about a jailbird cousin, a fat uncle and an “Oxycotton-popping” aunt, which is all followed by a cheery “La La La Have a Merry Christmas.” It may seem odd at first to hear such unsavory characters described in such an upbeat song, but Jacobsen is able to pull it off, prompting listeners to think about their own weird relatives.
“Your Sister” provides a take on adultery—one that most music-lovers aren’t used to. Jacobsen unapologetically sings as a man who cheats on his wife with her sister: “Well now your mom just hates me/For all that I have done/But she looks great for her age/Maybe she could be the next one.” Somewhat reminiscent of Fountain of Wayne’s hit “Stacy’s Mom,” the lyrics of “Your Sister” have a shock-factor that only adds to the hilarity.
“Do You Want Fries With That?” is certainly not a song one would expect to hear on the radio. But this track is surprisingly deep, as it comments on the difficulty of making decisions.
The song starts off by dramatizing a scenario at a fast-food counter, but the listener quickly grasps its message with the following lyrics, “And how the mighty have fallen/How we find ourselves brought low/Where once we demanded now it’s/Do you want that to stay or to go?” Despite this rather serious theme, the song manages to stay lighthearted, always asking, “Do you want fries with that?”
Many of Jacobsen’s songs include such deeper meanings, making Begin the Chagrin more than just a satirical album. In fact, his humor works so well with the somber themes that it makes his work more accessible and rather refreshing.
Any music fanatics looking for something completely new, but still meaningful, should definitely give Begin the Chagrin a listen.