Greg Jacobs is one of the Red Dirt Troubadours based in Stillwater, Okla. who influenced the songwriting of fellow Okies Garth Brooks, Jimmy LaFave, Tom Skinner, Cody Canada, The Red Dirt Rangers, Bob Childers and Jason Boland. He's a smooth singing vocalist who records only periodically, living by Childers' adage of it's better to write one good song than 10 bad ones. For "Encore," which Jacobs indicates could very well be his last album, he sets forth a collection of songs with some of the state's best session musicians including producer/string man Jared Tyler, Gene Williams, Jeff Parker, Shelby Eicher, Terry "Buffalo" Ware" and two duets with Carter Sampson.
These are rich stories beginning with local history in "Richardville Road," a true tale of unexpected wealth accruing from the allotment process in Indian territory around the time of Oklahoma statehood, as Tyler's Dobro and Eicher's fiddle provide the backdrop. You'll hear Jacob's tender side in his duets with Sampson In "A Heart Is Breaking" and "Eyes Of a Child" as well as in his touching laments "Here to Tulsa" (with gorgeous pedal steel) and "Being In Love." He not only loses love, but chases it with joy of an adolescent in "Come Here for You." Jacobs has a calm way with a tune, as his warm voice caresses his careful lyrics, with acoustic instruments like mandolins. Dobros, and light piano sprinkling in color.
"Never Miss A Thing" tells of a would-be rodeo star who never made it big while "Janie and Billy," a co-write with Tom Skinner from 30 years ago, tells of a seemingly mismatched couple in small town life who somehow made it much to the chagrin of the narrator who had a high school crush on Janie. "Footprints" decries the loss of family farms and a nostalgic past from the perspective of a nine-year-old. His inclusion of Randy Pease's classic baseball tune "I Love This Game" is a warm touch that breaks up the otherwise serious, and in some cases, bleak stories.
Jacobs includes Childers' "Woody's Road" as a bonus track to commemorate the passing of Skinner, Childers and fiddler Benny Craig. It's a nice touch. Songwriting is rarely better than on "Encore." Let's hope Jacobs doesn't make good on saying this is his last album. This indicates he's got plenty left.