Through the process of writing his first full-length solo album, “We’ll Make It,” multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Jacob Stanley has learned the beauty of collaboration.
Despite its being a solo album, the New Orleans native said the project would never have been possible without the assistance of a swath of collaborators that includes both family members and bandmates. He called that the “irony of the solo album.”
But beyond those who contributed directly to the album with their voices, lyrics and instruments, Stanley adamantly acknowledged those whose rolls in the process were less concrete.
“Without the people around me to have inspired me in meaning, in lyrical meaning, and musically, [the album] never would have existed,” Stanley said.
It’s important to Stanley that his listeners understand that. He said the process of absorbing inspiration and channeling it into the music is just as much a part of the album as the actual finished product.
And no song better highlights Stanley’s fascination with collaboration than “Hiding in Plain Sight.”
The song has a bit of a story to it. It started with his uncle sending him a brief few lines of lyrics back in October 2020. Around those lyrics, Stanley wrote the chords and the melody, and the song began to take shape.
Then another family member made a contribution that lent an entire new layer of significance to the song.
When Stanley showed his mother the work-in-progress that would become “Hiding in Plain Sight,” she gave him something he hadn’t anticipated: an old, torn-out page of notebook paper on which she had written some love-song lyrics about his father. She wrote them in 1993, the year before Stanley was born.
Whether or not to include those lyrics wasn’t even a question. To find how he would incorporate them, Stanley said he just let the song play and spoke his mother’s words over it.
“Her lyrics gave the song a meaning for me, since it spoke to the love her and my dad had right before I was around,” Stanley said. “Using that as a jumping-off point, I wrote the lyrics to the second verse still from the point of view of one parent to the other.”
And though the song certainly wouldn’t have happened without the lyrical contributions of Stanley’s uncle and mother, the very idea that it compiles inspiration from so many people in his family over so many years encouraged Stanley—forced him, even— to write something true. Not only was it written by multiple hands, but it draws from the stories of multiple lives, all linked by familial bond.
“There’s a lot of love that went into it,” he said.
While this is true of most of the album, Stanley said that song in particular showed him how many channels there are by which a piece of music can come to be. Knowing that, he’s hungry to continue developing his sound and chasing new methods of collaboration.
Though he’s still got some tinkering to do and has yet to nail down a release date, Stanley said he expects the album to be available sometime in April. After that, it’s on to the next project.