Tobias Ben Jacob is a singer-songwriter who lives in Exeter in England's beautiful West-Country. Jacob is one of those artists who is difficult to fit into any particular musical genre. Certainly, Jacob borrows from the folk tradition, but in truth, his music goes much further than that. With his gorgeous new album, "A Polyphonic Life," Jacob is backed by a top class band, something that really brings his songs to life.

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Superb musicianship in the folk music tradition

I have been following Jacob for a number of years after discovering his music through his performances on the United Kingdom's music festival scene. I have seen Jacob perform at everything from tiny grassroots music festivals to Glastonbury, the daddy of them all. When Jacob teams up with bass player Lukas Drinkwater it's probably fair to say that his music tends to lean towards folk music.

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Jacob has a beautiful guitar style, one that certainly draws from the acoustic "finger-picking" style favored by many folk singers. Jacob's songs tell stories, something else borrowed from the folk tradition.

Jacob tells tales of growing up in Northern England at a time when Margaret Thatcher's government made growing up in working-class Britain tough going. Jacob's ability to paint a bleak, yet hauntingly beautiful picture with his words and music is what makes "A Polyphonic Life" such a powerful listen

You can't review "A Polyphonic Life" without mentioning the musicians who add craft, variety and superb musicianship to the album.

Jacob is joined once again by Lukas Drinkwater on Double Bass and Cello. Drinkwater is undoubtedly one of the UK's hardest working musicians, he is much in demand as a session player, and has toured with too many bands to mention here.

The Little Unsaid's John Elliot adds depth with keys and electronics and also produced the album, whilst Phillip Henry's electric guitar, lap steel, and harmonica bring a touch of Americana to songs like "Loaded Gun." Tim Heymerdinger on drums and percussions holds the album together with a strong but sympathetic rhythm, whilst Alastair Caplin's strings add a beautifully rich texture to the piece.

The band sings backing vocals throughout and Andy Watts from London's Afrobeat Collective adds Trumpet and Flugelhorn.

Emily Barker, an Australian singer-songwriter, perhaps best known for the theme tunes to BBC Television dramas "Wallander" and "The Shadow Line," features as a guest singer, as does Jess McAllister -- a singer based in Devon. In short, Jacob brought together a formidable team to create "A Polyphonic Life."

'A Polyphonic Life': Biographical stories about life and love

For me, "A Polyphonic Life" scores strongly because of three factors.

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Firstly, as mentioned above, the musicianship is sublime, and yet the musicians do not detract from the beauty of Jacob's delightful guitar style. His delicate note picking is evident throughout the album and it rewards the listener who is prepared to don their headphones and really listen, not just hearing but feeling the music.

There are 11 songs on "A Polyphonic Life," and every track is superb.

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The songs work because they tell Tobias Ben Jacob's story, this is a journey from his Northern roots to life as a family man in the South West of England. He does so in a unique voice, like Bob Dylan, his singing has a strange beauty, his subject matter may sometimes be bleak and may draw on the folk tradition, but Jacob's voice is pure soul music.

Jacob talks of pain and beauty in equal measure, difficult subjects like the Hillsborough disaster are explored, but above all, this is a tale of believing in yourself, of striving for a rewarding life. In many ways, Jacob's tale is a tale of adversity overcome, of accepting, and of moving on, striving for a better future.

This is a masterpiece of a record, superb from beginning to end. "A Polyphonic Life" is an album to absorb, it's an album to enjoy with your feet up, a glass of wine in hand. It's a late night album, one to enjoy with a lover, and above all, it's an album that rewards the discerning listener who will invest the time needed to really understand and appreciate a superb piece of music.

If I were awarding points, then Tobias Ben Jacob's "A Polyphonic Life" would score 11/11 because all 11 tracks are a joy. It really is that good.

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