Injected with an amalgamation of genres
The soulful serenades of New York City-based singer/songwriter Jak Lizard is the positivity everyone needs infused in their lives. Born and raised in Long Island to a guitar-playing father and a former street-performing mother, as well as three older musician brothers; he had creativity and encouragement in abundance.
Growing up listening to the likes of Stevie Wonder and Sly and the Family Stone, Jak found himself connecting most to R&B/soul artists, but he was also captivated by the controversial stylings of Bob Dylan — to the point of learning both guitar and harmonica, and jokingly admitting, “I was definitely just trying to be Bob Dylan for a little bit.” The singer’s love for Bob Dylan initially inspired him to write politically-charged songs, however, Jak quickly realised that his own music felt more authentic when he put a positive spin on negative situations, expressing, “I wanted to make music that reflected the aspirations of feeling more positive about life.”
The colourful new EP Young Americana was created as an ode to a region of New York he loved called Hudson Valley, and the Americana genre that’s prevalent in that area. Beginning the project in September 2020 and with the pandemic weighing heavily on people’s emotions, Jak wanted to inject a little hope into the world. He began writing and recording in makeshift studios across various Airbnb rentals, curating harmony-driven sounds and sunny melodies that would hopefully help people to get through some of the toughest moments in their lives.
The EP is the medicine the artist sought during the pandemic, amidst the protests and change we all went through collectively. The artist shares, “In the news, we hear a lot about people’s idea of America and what it means to them and it never sat right with me. While there is so much to feel anxious and down about within the world, it’s been my true experience with all shapes, sizes, colours, and cultures of people that there is something of true happiness and worth to how we’re all living. I spent a year and a half listening, learning, and falling in love with life and everyone involved in it. It’s that pure freeing feeling that helped shape Young Americana.” The six-track release is a love letter to optimism in a time of strife and the idea that when we stick together, we cannot be stopped. Jak continues, “Why now? Because right now I feel we need to remember what life is all about: encouraging love and kindness and working to bring out the best in everyone, every chance we get.”
His positive and optimistic approach to life is the focal point of his music, beaming vividly throughout the uplifting instrumentation and his vivacious vocals, particularly in the title track “Young Americana.” Injected with an amalgamation of genres that have shaped him as an artist and set among a kaleidoscope of chirpy keys and buoyant beats, you can pinpoint inflexions of some of his favourite artists, though presented in a way that is exclusively him.
His refreshingly bright outlook on life isn’t just a story he wants to project, but the mantra he lives by, with him revealing “Every song I’ve ever written has happened within an environment of joy and love. Those are definitely the prerequisites.”
The New York City artist has gained an army of supporters through his previous releases, amassing close to five million streams on Spotify, as well as a quarter of a million views on YouTube. His music has held the place of the top English-language song on Osaka’s Hot 100 and found a home atop some of Spotify’s brightest playlists like “Ready for the Day”, “Mellow Morning” and “Nu Funk.” Jak has garnered acclaim from the likes of Earmilk, Lyrical Lemonade and Elevator Magazine to name a few, as well as having sold out prestigious venues including Elsewhere Rooftop, The Troubadour and Garcia’s at the Capitol Theater.