There was nothing like soul-infused Tuesday night when Jacob Banks hit the stage at Barboza. Watching flashes his fans a stunning white smile, while shyly saying “Hi, I’m from London,” we felt nothing but warmth for the soulful artist as he sang a cover of Corinne Bailey Rae’s infamous “Put Your Records On.”
Originally from Birmingham, England, the British singer-songwriter first became active in 2012, when he was the first unsigned act to ever appear on BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. Influenced by a multitude of soul, R&B, and hip-hop, Banks first recorded his debut EP The Monologue, released in 2013, with his top hit “Worthy,” a popular play on various stations. A tall, brooding man with a bright smile, Banks reminds us of a combination of Benjamin Clementine, Seal, and Jack Garratt. Soft smooth vocals always seemingly complemented by melodic piano, Jacob Banks is crossing genres often acoustic singer-songwriter ballads, like tracks “Homecoming” and “Hostage” on his EP The Monologue. Yet, the man has range, both vocally and emotionally, demonstrated in “Something Beautiful,” also seen on his EP The Monologue. On his newest EP The Paradox, Banks delves more into soul and R&B, experimenting with melodies in his vocal range, seen in “Home,” and “All Mine.”
Playing fan favorites from his newer EP, Banks succeeded at demonstrating a mix of softer vocals and instrumentals in “Unknown,” while demonstrating a hard, grittier audible aesthetic in “Sink or Swim.” Highlighting the soul aspects of his set list, the British artist catalyzed a complete feeling of union and communal love, as the audience swayed in unison to “Home,” a song similar in feeling to any calmer Stevie Wonder track— a nice complement to the upbeat and diverse sounding track “Monster.”
Finally ending his set with new single “Unholy War,” the audience vibe completely shifted as we all came together and empathized together with the emotion in Banks’ vocals as he glided on the stage and crooned chorus “Let love lead you home, oh no/ Let redemption keep you warm.” And just as Banks climaxes as he reaches as the height at the bridge taper off, the audience in parallel also drops. We stop, we sway, we close our eyes, and we dance as the rest of the chorus plays out. Jacob Banks has reached a new level of soul, and it’s dipping into funk—and we’re sort of hoping he continue only to reach new heights with his artistic creativity.
And if we can’t convince you with our words to fall in love with Jacob Banks, just let his music persuade you himself.