"I showed up as a bass guitarist who wanted to play jazz fusion and left wanting to play show tunes," he said. But writing the books that accompany the musicals was a task that Jacobsen didn't take to, so he ended up doing neither.
Instead, these days Jacobsen plays what he describes as "acoustic music of the folk-ish vein," on his own, and writes and creates electronic synth-pop as part of cooperative effort known as September's Shadow. The group, made up of Jacobsen and fellow Jersey residents Stefanie Seskin and K.T. Wills, recently released a CD titled Hobson's Journey.
Feels like fall
The name "September's Shadow" refers to a time of expectations and disappointments, Jacobsen said.
"It's evocative of feelings in September when things begin in a lot of ways and you have all your happy expectations. It's the beginning of the school year, the Jewish New Year...but then it's also the shadows of those expectations that hang over you when failed."
Though Seskin and Wills make major contributions with their smooth, strong vocals, the album is primarily Jacobsen's project. He wrote and composed all 18 tracks. (Wills and Seskin provide vocals on a total of four tracks of the album.) Their sweeter, softer voices provide a nice contrast from Jacobsen's deep, melancholy voice.
Seskin, from Jersey City, and Wills, from Roseland, are both musicians in their own right who work on several other musical projects. Jacobsen invited them to collaborate with him on the album after hearing them perform, he said.
The fact that all three have solo careers is one reason the band probably won't be doing any live performances, Jacobsen said. But, he added, he may include some of the songs in one of his solo sets.
"There are a couple of tracks I can do acoustically," Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen often performs with Jersey City's Art House Productions. Originally from South Orange, he has lived in Jersey City for the past three-and-a-half years.
He spends a large amount of time playing original acoustic compositions in venues across New Jersey and New York. But unlike his albums, his live music focuses on more narrative -sometimes even funny- folk songs. "The album is for my ego but the live performances are for the audience," he said.
That difference between folk and electronic music is another reason Jacobsen doesn't foresee too many performances featuring the music on Hobson's Journey. "The songs are not really meant to be performed live. It's more of a clearly-defined genre," he said.
The choice is yours
Hobson's Journey is a retro album, not because the songs are covers, but because the synthesizer-heavy electronic music featured on almost all of the tracks is reminiscent of 1980s New Wave music.
Jacobsen said his target audience is the people who lived through that music movement.
"It's for people in their late 20s and early 30s who remember the pop music of the 1980s," Jacobsen said. But, he added that much of September's Shadow's music is experimental, and really isn't too pop-y.
The two-part album was (fittingly) released in September, and is available on CD Baby and iTunes.
The first half of the album, entitled "Hobson's Choice," contains tracks whose roots can be traced to bands such as Depeche Mode, New Order, and The Cure - all bands that Jacobsen lists as influences.
He said that the idea of 'Hobson's Choice' is something that he became aware of in the comic book The New Mutants.
"It's a choice that isn't really a choice," Jacobsen explains. "It's like saying, 'you can have any color you want as long as it's black.'"
The second half of the album, called "The Journey Home from Rexel 4," features more experimental-sounding, instrumental tracks (though Jacobsen does add his vocals to some of the songs).
These songs were originally written to be part of a soundtrack for a videogame that Jacobsen composed for a friend of a friend. The title reflects that sort of sci-fi theme, and is a "totally obscure reference to a totally obscure show," Jacobsen said, the show, called "the Tomorrow People" was on Nickelodeon in the 80s.
Though both parts of the album have a different feel - one melancholy, the other almost menacing - the album as a whole is a brave retro endeavor into new and old electronic music that should please fans of traditional and non-traditional synth-pop alike.
David W. Jacobson will be perform Friday October 5, at 6:00 p.m. at the EARTHSCAPES art exhibit at Mary Benson Gallery. The gallery is located at 369 Third Street in Jersey City. For more information on September's Shadow, go to www.septembersshadow.com. Comments on this story can be sent to email@example.com