Jack Van Cleaf has today released his new album titled ‘Fruit from the Trees’. Stories disguised as music create a wonderful shelf of memories bookended by the originality of the author. There is enough diversity within the music to find a fan in most places while that overall signature sound encapsulates and lets you know that you have found a new addition to your playlist. Jack highlights his imperfections as a person and collides them with his growth as an artist and that, to me, is what guided me to listen to ‘Fruit from the Trees’ from start to finish. Let this be a journey.
California-reared singer-songwriter Jack Van Cleaf writes determined and delicate songs with poetic slant and confessional warmth. At twenty-four, Van Cleaf has taken stage at notable venues, including Douglas Corner Cafe, Wire Chicago, and SXSW. Intimate performances with Sofar Sounds have found Van Cleaf captivating audiences from New York City to Austin, Texas. Jack has collaborated with songwriters such as Annika Bennett, Gatlin, and Ethansroom.
Upon each release, his singles have garnered positive attention with features on editorial playlists such as Spotify’s Fresh Finds (where he secured the coveted playlist cover image), Fresh Finds: Folk, New Music Friday, Chill Folk, Fresh Folk, my life is a movie, wanderlust, Apple Music’s New In Country, Amazon Music’s Breakthrough Folk and YouTube Music’s The New Americana. Fruit from the Trees, co-produced by Jamie Mefford (Gregory Alan Isavok; Nathaniel Rateliff) and Alberto Sewald (Katy Kirby), marks an ambitious and colorful arrival for Jack Van Cleaf.
The album opens like a lost suitcase. Written across the last seven years, the ten tracks are stashed with fables and fictions, letters to high school lovers, loose change in foreign currency, and a white bandanna chalked in red Texas dust. The record’s first single, “Black & Blue,” distinguishes itself with slow beauty and strong narrative command dressed in subtle harmonies and shimmering guitars. In “Cowboy,” a guilt-ridden rogue’s romantic vision canters from fireside folk to anthemic rock, fit for the vast desert sky. The fan favorite and rumbling heartbeat of the record, “Rattlesnake,” is struck by the overwhelming possibilities of living “drunk on freedom, stuck on choice.” And in “Wild Roses,” the arrangement spreads out in sunlit brass while the lyrics write – as vivid as memory – of a Florentine spring love affair.
When Van Cleaf started writing for this album, he couldn’t have imagined the journey to the actual release. He was simply writing to document and process the most formative years of his life. Fruit from the Trees title fits the collection perfectly as the project feels like a harvest of sorts. “The image of the fruit presented itself as a reminder of the immediate and tangible sweetness of life,” says Van Cleaf. “Where the frustrations of the recording process inflamed my urge to scratch everything, the image of the fruit symbolically suggested that I reconsider and take a careful look at what has grown out of this time. Fruit from the Trees is the product of that reconsideration.”