There’s an awful lot of music contained on the three albums Jacob Augustine is releasing this week. The albums, “Frontier,” “Goldyhymns” and “The Original Love,” weren’t recorded in one mad creative session, however, nor are they part of one triple-album whole. Instead, it’s three distinct statements from the Portland-via-Lincoln songwriter, recorded over the course of two years, in multiple locations. A CD release party is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 4, at Port City Music Hall in Portland.
“In a way, I’m glad that they’re all getting released now, so I can start working on my new stuff,” said Augustine. “I’ve been living with these songs for so long, and I never had the money to master them and get them out there. In all that time, being a starving poor artist, I recorded two whole albums after recording ‘Frontier.’ It’s been a long time.”
Augustine formerly played with a live band, the House of Fire, which disbanded late last year after the sheer size of the group — 10 people — made it prohibitive to tour outside of Maine. The album that reflects that band, “Frontier,” is a highly orchestrated collection of the songs Augustine wrote in 2009 and 2010, with a string section, brass and lots of unique percussion backing up his plaintive, soaring vocals. Though he misses playing with a kind of small rock orchestra, the freedom that playing solo affords him isn’t something he would trade.
“Now, I feel like I can play the shows I want to, in the venues I want to,” said Augustine. “I’m not going to lie, I like the songwriting process and recording process a lot more than I like playing live, though I do love playing live. It’s just allowed me to focus more.”
“Goldyhymns” and “The Original Love” were written and recorded after the House of Fire broke up, however, and are Augustine simply playing by himself and a handful of musicians, and reflect a more raw, intimate state of mind. “Goldyhymns” is an EP, while “The Original Love” is full length. Both showcase his voice, which leaps from a deep holler to a vibrato-laden falsetto, bringing to mind everyone from Van Morrison and John Prine to Bon Iver and Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons. It’s powerful stuff, with an urgency and earnestness that demands the listener’s attention.
In June, he moved home to Lincoln to care for his grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. The relative isolation — at least, compared to life as an indie rocker in Portland — and the close connection to family has affected his songwriting in a big way.
“It’s definitely affected my songwriting. I think what I’ve done in the past few months is the best I’ve ever written,” said Augustine. “It’s very challenging and stressful, being here, but it’s given me so much to write about. I’m learning piano. I’m really looking forward to getting these songs out there, somewhere in the future.”
“Frontier,” “Goldyhymns” and “The Original Love” will be available for name-your-price download on jacobaugustine.bandcamp.com, beginning Tuesday, Oct. 25.