The first of four reimagined classics released by the fresh pairing of local singer-songwriter Jacob Miller and prolific Canadian musician and producer Sam Weber (Madison Cunnigham, Bahamas), “I Want You Back,” is a compelling new rendition of the 1969 Jackson 5 original.
This one is an ear-worm, friends, get yourselves ready.
Miller has been writing songs since the ripe age of 13, spent a stint working on farms while “studying the regional sound throughout North America,” and even found himself performing on T.V.’s The Voice, where he received accolades from both Nick Jonas and James Taylor.
After meeting Weber on tour, Miller played a show with him here in Portland. Weber was on an extended visit, and two weeks prior to his departure, Miller pitched the idea of producing an EP of covers together while he was still in town. They wouldn’t have time to be precious, and both went into the endeavor with a ‘whatever happens, happens’ mentality. What came of the experience, however, is something Miller believes to be “the start of something new.”
“The pairing of Sam and I … his sensibilities as well as production, playing and guitar style, along with my stuff just meeting each other in the middle, and not trying to take over,” explains Miller, “has provided this really cool offspring of sound.”
For this project, the instrumentation, including Danny Austin-Manning on drums, was tracked in unison to Miller’s already-laid vocal performance, while the players got to watch each other from their individual booths; an uncommon approach for him. The team would capture three to four takes per song, feel good about what they got, and then move on.
“There was something really cohesive, organic and fun-feeling about the way it all happened,” says Miller. “I respect everyone on the very small team, and I trust that they’re gonna do what they do …”
After their success in the studio, Miller was inspired to ask local singer-songwriter, Merle Law, of Palm Sunday, to participate. They had opened for Miller in the past and he was thoroughly impressed by their level of talent. Law was happy to join the crew and to contribute their vocal harmonies to be layered in. “When you’re working on something that the people all believe in, as opposed to when you’re hiring someone that’s just really good and not connecting to the material, I think it translates,” Miller says of the collaboration.
This unique remake is rich with original tones and pleasant surprises, giving the listener an opportunity to hear this familiar jam in a welcomed new way. “It really feels like ME for the first time, which is a really exciting feeling,” remarks Miller. “It feels fresh, and exciting, and like growth, and I think that will translate as well. I am incredibly proud of this song and what’s to come following its release.”
“I Want You Back” was recorded at Anjuna Studio in Portland, Or, and mastered by Adam Gonsalves at Telegraph Mastering. Look out for future tracks from Miller’s EP, These Don’t Belong to Me, as well as potential release show with full-band early next year.