According to the Merriam-Webster, Damask is a firm lustrous fabric make with flat patterns in a satin weave on a plain-woven ground on jacquard looms. After listening through Miami's own Sarah Jacob's Damask, I can say the title is fitting. It's filled with flat patterns, plain-woven lyrics, and a puzzling propensity to crowbar those lyrics into schizophrenic musical arrangements.
Damask's opening line on "Deprivation" perfectly describes my time with the album. "You came on ever so quickly. You filled me with expectations, but only briefly." The opening track "Prelude" is a sparse and beautiful piano and violin arrangement that lasts 31 seconds. "Dare I," substitutes keyboards for pianos and begins to fall apart a few moments later. Jacob's singing is beautiful at times, especially when she goes from a raspy whisper to a full on belting out of her lyrics. But she gets a sort of beat poet vibe and stops singing mid line to speak certain words before suddenly breaking back into singing. It makes for an uneven experience.
Lyrically, Damask is not strong. Although the lyrics are no
doubt heartfelt and written by Jacob's, they're pedestrian at best. For
instance, a minute and a half into "Tapestry," Sarah actually sings the
following lines: "Let's build a house in France. We'll learn the
language of romance. If we give it half a chance we might learn to
dance. Yeah." The rest of the album is filled with lines you've heard a
thousand times before or seen scribbled in the margins of your high
Musically, the album is a mixed bag. At
points, the orchestral arrangements, drums, and piano blend together to
form a warm, lush sound scape. Other times, the music sounds like
something that would be played during a wedding ceremony, funeral
procession, or graduation. It's familiar and uninspired.
Sarah Jacob has the talent to be one hell of a musician. The problems with Damask
are the sometimes laughable lyrics and music that becomes distracting
when it tries to get an "epic" feel. Pare it down to a piano, maybe
some drums, and spend more time on lyrics (or be like everyone on the
radio and have someone else write your songs) and you could have
something. The album just has too many things going against it to
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.