This post has a bit of special significance for me. Today we’re taking a look at Perspective, the debut album from Virginia resident Jake Nielsen. Jake has spent decades creating his own unique blend of music that combines the complexity of progressive rock with more melodic singer/songwriter leanings. As a deeply religious man, Nielsen’s lyrics pull heavily from his beliefs and make for a distinctly inspirational experience for any listener, regardless of one’s own ideologies. He has essentially spent his entire musical career up until this point preparing for this release. Many of the tunes on this record have been in the works for many, many years. After listening to the album, I can easily say that all those years of hard work have paid off; Perspective is a brilliant display of razor-sharp musicianship and thought-provoking songwriting. This is a man who has mastered the art of perfectly balancing emotional sincerity and awe-inspiring virtuosity in music. This is also the man who served as my mentor and piano instructor for the majority of my pre-college youth.
It’s an interesting study of character to pick out all of the various musical influences in an artist’s music. On his Facebook page, Jake Nielsen cites his main influences as Dream Theater, Billy Joel, Ben Folds Five, and Neal Morse. This is actually an extremely accurate representation of Nielsen’s music. The obvious comparison to Neal Morse can certainly be heard in the Christian singer/songwriter vibe present on Perspective. The incredible musical talent that Nielsen possesses on the keyboards is a combination of Jordan Rudess’s technically demanding parts in Dream Theater’s music and the contemporary, slightly jazzy style of Billy Joel and Ben Folds. For someone who has never listened to much progressive rock before, I would say that this album is definitely an excellent bridge between such a style and more accessible contemporary music.