No parent ever wants to get the call that their son is giving up med school to pursue a music career, but these days Jacob Powell’s folks are seeing it as a wise decision. The young Tennessean’s high octane debut EP is rapidly earning him a reputation as one of Music Row’s most talented new singer/songwriters.
Possessing a distinctive voice teeming with both a sense of playful mischief and serious intent, Powell is at the forefront of a new breed of country artists shaping today’s sonic landscape. There’s an edgy energy in his songs that makes them leap from the speakers and command attention. “Let it Ride” is a prime example. Boasting a melody that percolates and a lyric that elevates escapism to a fine art, Powell unleashes a tour de force performance that has hit written all over it.
Fans have already embraced “Koozie,” a light-hearted salute to that “pocket-sized beer cooler made of neoprene” that is a country boy’s favorite companion. The sing-along chorus makes it a perfect party anthem. Yet as compelling as Powell is on a rowdy up-tempo tune, he’s equally capable of scoring a swift punch to the heart when delivering a poignant ballad.
Powell’s musical journey began in Lawrenceburg, TN, a sleepy little town south of Nashville where he grew up listening to the Allman Brothers, George Jones and George Strait. Though he loved music, he set his sights on a medical career and was a pre-med major at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville. “I started playing in bars over there and called my mom and told her I wanted to play music,” he recalls with a grin. “She wasn’t too happy about that especially switching from being a doctor to a musician.”
He transferred to Middle Tennessee State University’s music business program to pursue his dream. It was at a bar in his hometown where he met songwriter/producer Ben Daniel. He invited Powell to co-write with him and Brandon Kinney and a new creative partnership was born. When executives at Sony/ATV heard the songs emerging from those sessions, Powell landed a contract with the publishing giant. “My voice is a little different, and Brandon and Ben are different in their songwriting and production,” he says of his producers. “They have cool things going on in their heads, and it works. Some of the songs have a pop feel to them, but I’m so country it amps up the country vibe. It’s a mix between rock and country. It’s different and I love it.”
Powell’s debut disc showcases the depth and breadth of his artistry. Up tempo numbers such as “Working Man” reflect the energy and personality that make him such a potent live act while “Somethin’ Somethin’” just exudes that cool confidence that makes women want him and guys want to have a beer with him. “We’ve got a little bit of everything on the EP,” Powell says. “Of the six songs, I feel like every one of them is a little bit different. ‘Koozie’ is kind of tongue-in-cheek, definitely a party song. ‘Working Man’ is about getting up early, working hard and then coming home to your significant other and still be what she needs. ‘Getaway Girl’ talks about how this girl is your escape from everything. She could take you wherever you wanted to go.”
Jacob Powell sings country music with an authority and authenticity that come from both God-given talent and hard-earned experience. He was never meant to be a doctor. He was born for this. “I just love music,” he says. “It’s really cool to see a song go from sitting in a room with an idea to playing it out and people singing along, that’s the coolest part about it. There’s something so special about seeing people enjoying what you do.”