At 16, Jake Thistle Could Be The Next Generation’s Classic Singer/Songwriter

With his thoughtful, introspective lyrics and controlled stage presence, Jake Thistle is poised to lead the much-needed revival of classic ‘70s singer/songwriters. And in a few months, he’ll get his driver’s license.

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At sixteen years old, Thistle’s music oozes an authenticity and depth that should make modern folk legends like Jason Isbell and Jeff Tweedy smile. His vocals, delivered with sincerity and just the right amount of rasp, recall early Jackson Browne, John Hiatt, Steve Forbert and Tom Petty. In fact, members of Petty’s band were duly impressed with Thistle’s musicianship they invited him out to Los Angeles to perform during a birthday tribute to the late singer’s music last year.

The New Jersey musician has a slew of cover songs in his pocket, from those artists and more. But as of late he’s on a creative songwriting streak of his own. His debut album, Down The  Line, features 12 songs touching on hope, uncertainty, optimism and strength, all crafted in his own home studio with minimal overdubs.

“Lines On The Road” contemplates the uncertainty of what the ’20’s decade may bring with the same wisdom a young Jackson Browne looked ahead to the new decade nearly 50 years ago in “These Days.”

Well I’m hypnotized by lines rushing by on the road
Measuring a time in song, feeling the highway below
I’m not worried about figuring out my life
No one ever seems to make it out alive
No I’m just seeing how long I can survive

“The inspiration was from that sense of serenity and hope I’d get when taking long road trips, often for gigs in other states,” he told American Songwriter via email. “I’m a year away from being able to drive myself, so I have a lot of time to look out the window.”

Thistle is so mild-mannered and open with his music he even recorded a special version of “Lines On The Road” for American Songwriter which you can watch below. A livestream album release party is scheduled for tonight at 7 pm EST (Info here).

“The lines on the road are ten feet long– I looked it up. They don’t look that long because they go by so quickly and when they do, they have a hypnotic effect that takes my mind away from the problems of the world and makes me feel free and open to what’s possible down the road. That sense of being in the moment.”

“I’m also being open to the possibility of what’s coming down that road. That’s one of the reasons I decided to call the album Down the Line. Many of the songs are about looking forward, and to the future, which I think is especially important these days. The world is full of divisive noise, and any sense of peace even in simple things like lines of paint rushing by is gold. I thought that juxtaposing the quiet blur of the lines on the road against the world’s deafening noise could help paint that picture.”

Jake Thistle Down The Line album

“Lines On The Road” took a little more crafting on Thistle’s part and wasn’t going to be included on his debut, but found its spot at the last minute.

“I had the initial idea and some of the content pretty quickly, but it just wouldn’t come together in a way I was happy with…so I put it away entirely for probably four months. When I decided to take another song off Down The Line, I thought about what I really wanted to have on the album in its place. I always liked the potential of “Lines On The Road,” and with the rest of the album as context in mind, the song finally came together as a whole and fit what I wanted to say thematically. I think sometimes putting something away to get a new perspective is a great way to find important new life for a song.”

Purchase Down The Line here:

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