Real is a refreshingly diverse debut sprinkling elements of soul, funk, and R&B amid solid pop songwriting. Jake Smith originally released the album independently. After sharing the stage with Rocketown Records artist Shaun Groves, Smith's music MySpace.com attracted the attention of the label's A&R reps. Rocketown picked up the record and re-released it nationally with new cover artwork and radio edits. Songs reflect Smith's real-life experiences, such as facing his parents' cancer, being hit by a drunk driver, and dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in his hometown. The New Orleans native delivers vocals with a masterful control of rhythm and shares these stories with flavorful soul. The David Gray-esque urgency of "This Is Certain" and "Breakdown" slows down to a delightfully groovy party vibe on "Can't Save Your Soul." A shuffling piano interlude in "What I Plan to Do" fits surprisingly well along with a scat-like melody. You may not hear the same brooding and social awareness that comes from John Mayer, but Smith demonstrates a similar affinity for acoustic funk and blues.
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AllMusic Review by Jared Johnson