Silver People is the solo recording project of singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jake Reeves, who’s an attorney by day. And although his clients may occasionally have to wait a little bit longer to see their attorney, it was a small price for them to have paid to help him create music. (Reeves is quick to point out that none of his clients have ever complained about it.) “Once the day’s primary lawyering was done,” he explains, “I would close my office door and just get onto YouTube, taking these deep dives on all these amazing free tutorials that are out there,” he says of that period, as he started dabbling in music production on the side of his full-time job as a lawyer.
What initially began as YouTube deep dives and extended research has come to full fruition with Reeves’ full-length debut Gnome Country. Part singer-songwriter exploration, part production wizardry, Gnome Country is a loving homage to late 60s and early 70s psychedelia. “I started doing a little bit of that production stuff and started recording and got an idea to make a humble, acid-folk record,” Reeves says of the album’s inspiration. ““Also, I’m a big sci-fi fantasy nerd. I thought it would be really fun to do an album that had those touches, in a tongue-in-cheek way. There was this period from about 1969 through 1972 when all of these British musicians discovered and became fascinated with The Lord of the Rings. I wanted to do something with that influence, kind of an otherworldly, mystical kind of thing.”
“That was the original concept. As I got into it, I was learning how to produce, trying to make the stuff as professional as I could. And I was also mixing it as I went, trying to focus on the songcraft without becoming too overwrought.”
While you can hear the influences of Syd Barrett-era and Dark Side of the Moon-era Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Bert Jansch and others, Reeves’ innate originally keeps the music from sounding too indebted to any one particular source. “I didn’t want it to sound pastiche,” he explains. “I didn’t want it to be mimicry. I wanted it to be loving and influenced by those genres, but I didn’t want it to sound like a tribute band.”
Although Silver People is a mostly one-man operation with Reeves playing the instruments and on the decks, he does get help from some friends — most notably from Nicole Chillemi, who contributes vocals on a couple of tracks, including two of there out-of-left-field covers.
As eclectic as the album’s material is, it could have been even more so, if Reeves’ wife Kimberly hadn’t intervened. Reeves says, “My wife Kimberly said, ‘You’re going to have a 30-song album that’s going to be unwieldy in all different places. I think you need to get back to where you started.’ I pared things down and decided to get back to the original idea.”
Considering the sci-fi leanings on the record, it’s fitting whom Jake Reeves credits for his overriding philosophy on letting these tracks live in all their unkempt glory. “George Lucas said, ‘Art is never completed, it’s abandoned,’” Reeves explains. “So a guiding principle was to not tinker with this thing and turn it into something hyper-produced or obsessively polished. It just wasn’t going to be one of those records.”
Gnome Country‘s latest single “Torn Between the Wizards of My Past and the Demons of My Present” is a slow-burning, late night lounge take on psych centered around glistening and arpeggiated Rhodes and jazz-like percussion paired with Nicole Chillemi’s smoky vocals. The end result is a song that to my ears, at least resembles a synthesis of Dark Side of the Moon-era Pink Floyd and Dummy-era Portishead.
Fittingly, the accompanying video features trippy 70s CGI footage of people flying through the cosmos and the like — and in a way that would remind you of old sci fi books and TRON.
Gnome Country is slated for a July 1, 2022 release.