Anna Marketti ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Jake Mcelfresh brings diversity to the singer-songwriter world with his raspy vocals and acoustic guitar pairing that makes up his solo act, Front Porch Step. For fans of Bright Eyes, Front Porch Step acts as a sort of throwback, putting the emo indie scene back on the radar. Whole Again is the follow-up EP to his full-length debut, Aware.
Adding a touch of wintry chill to his heavy, emotional crooning, Mcelfresh blends warm undertones into his otherwise harsh voice to create a short but dynamic EP. Only four tracks long, one might approach it cautiously, worried that after having the luxury of a full-length album to play with, he might fall short and not pack in all he can. But as soon as the EP edges onto its second track, “Heaven Sent,” listeners are captivated immediately. Drawing slightly on folk influences with the guitar plucking and light piano, “Heaven Sent” fills you with that warm feeling of sitting bundled in front of a fireplace, watching the snowflakes softly falling outside and pining for a love long lost. It’s melancholy, yet warming in its fullness.
Following the winter path Mcelfresh began carving with this EP, he launches into a cover of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” Too soon?
Covers can be dangerous territory for some musicians, contingent on what they’re choosing to cover. Christmas songs act as a sort of neutral gray area, with those that are over-covered and beaten into oblivion (if I hear “All I Want For Christmas Is You” ever again I may go Van Gogh on my ears), as well as those that can be revitalized and turned into modern beauties all their own.
Mcelfresh falls somewhere in between the two. He brings new life to “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” with his special brand of emo-acoustic crossover, but lacks originality in the cover. It’s a pleasant listen, perfect for all your hot cocoa-sipping soundtrack needs, but it’s missing that special something that would turn it into an explosive radio hit.
Where he does succeed is in his original work. The EP closes out with “Whole Again,” a shaky recounting of experience with self-harm and self-esteem struggles. Filled to the brim with emotion, his voice cracks and fluctuates with an incredibly wide range of feeling. Cursing his past self for falling apart so easily, and praising the subject of the song for putting him back together again, “Whole Again” is incredibly relatable and immensely touching.
Whole Again is Front Porch Step itself becoming whole again, pushing forward all he’s capable of and proving himself further for fans of his initial album. Pick it up on December 2nd, and throw it in your rotation of holiday CDs.