11 Sordid Tales of Human Misery and Redemption.
"Jake has the blues and has them bad. It ain’t the ‘woke up this mornin’’ styled blues—this is Tom Waits styled, junkie, hard drinking, hung-over, livin’ in the back of a car, singer-songwriter music that will have Leonard Cohen fans hiding the razor blades! Listening to this album, alone in a bedsit, with a bottle of cider is not recommended. But La Botz is undoubtedly a unique songwriter!" Tony Burke
"JAKE LA BOTZ, Sing This to Yourself…and Other Songs for a Personal Apocalypse (Charnel Ground)
Heartache transforms into profound albeit bleak wisdom on this acoustic outing by bluesman/actor La Botz. From the abyss, he delivers stunners like “Depression Brings Me Flowers,” “Hard to Love What You Kill” and “About Who I Am,” which rank among the hardest-hitting, most poetic and melodic songs he’s written. “Sky is Wide Open” ultimately suggests gentle hope: “Clouds take your sorrow when you give up tomorrow/ And yesterday keeps singing itself back to sleep.”"
"Film fans may recall La Botz fronting a bar band in Ghost World, strumming for fellow inmates in Animal Factory or, most recently, crooning “Wishing Well” as a mercenary in Rambo. The bluesman’s fifth album, independently released in time for his latest tour of tattoo parlors across the lower forty-eight, is a bare-boned journey deep into dark nights of the soul; La Botz jokes these are “songs to kill or be killed to.” But, notwithstanding the black humor of “The Devil Lives in My Throat,” there’s nothing funny or half-assed about the way he strip-mines bleak, hypnotic beauty from heartbreak and fingerpicked acoustic settings on ballads like “When Your Trouble Gets Like Mine” or the harrowing “Depression Brings Me Flowers” (“The bad news is I don’t believe in happiness/ The good news is I know the ground quite well/ I go to hell and back with eyes wide open/ And come up to smell the flowers by my bed”). Pain rarely felt so sweet."
- FADE IN MAGAZINE
"Jake La Botz has released "the most depressing album ever." I made sure of it. At the end of "Hungry Again," your heart hurts for more and La Botz obliges you. Each song is another miserable, unfortunate, lonely day in his personal apocalypse.
Make no mistake; there is a difference between Ryan Adams' "Voices" and La Botz's "The Devil Lives in My Throat." While Adams is crying and wallowing, La Botz is rolling around in it. Although there is pain and suffering, La Botz teaches us that depression is both necessary and, generally, temporary. We must feel this way in order to feel alive! So rather than feel sorry for himself, he urges others to revel in that pain until it's gone. La Botz hopes that Sing This to Yourself and Other Suggestions for a Personal Apocalypse will be "a comfort to those who are struggling."
Oooh, it hurts so good.
He's waist-deep in his third tour of performing at tattoo parlors across the country. If that's not enough to get you googling "Jake La Botz," you don't have a soul.
Who he reminds you of: Tom Waits if he was only allowed to use a guitar."
"Sing This to Yourself … and Other Suggestions for a Personal Apocalypse (Charnel Ground Records)
Jake La Botz is clearly going to shoot his own face off. From the opening strains of “Hungry Again (Put Me in a Hole),” he’s a little Bob Dylan and a whole lotta suicide. The next song on his new album Sing This to Yourself begins with the word “depression” sung like Sylvia Plath smoked a carton of Luckys.
This is not the evil Jake La Botz we knew and loved, whose deceptively old-man blues-growls emotionally abused his woman in “Things You’ve Got to Do for Me” – “and if you see another woman, just hope she ain’t better-looking, baby” – and who first got drunk at the age of 12, and who then rode the dog (the Greyhound, not Rick Santorum-bait).
Now he doesn’t see her purse on the table today, and the world ended yesterday, and his family’s gone, and his home’s gone, and I’m sure the bitch took his dog too, or – as she did in the epic Jon Wayne Band song – peed on the carpet and shot his horse.
Oh, Jake La Botz! Can’t you find a new woman to smack around and make you happy? We don’t like seeing you like this."
–LA CITYBEAT (Rebecca Schoenkopf)
"...Jake La Botz's latest release on his own Charnel Ground Records label, Sing This To Yourself And Other Suggestions For A Personal Apocalypse is as lucid and honest examination of the subject as you'll hear anywhere. Without a trace of self-pity or melodrama the eleven songs on Sing This To Yourself explore and describe what a person going through depression experiences. While some might wonder at the rationale behind creating a recording of songs about depression, La Botz's explanation of "My hope is that these songs could be a comfort to those who are struggling" is worth remembering.
Depression is an incredibly isolating illness, so for the person suffering with it the knowledge that somebody understands what they're going through is more valuable then any medication. Now that's not to say this album should only be listened to when prescribed by a shrink, (although I personally think it's a far better medication than Prozac or any of the other deadening drugs.) as it's an amazing collection of songs that has a lot to offer anybody who appreciates a well written blues tune. Jake La Botz has an astounding capacity to express emotions in a way that anybody listening can't help but understand and be touched by.
Jake reminds us where the blues came from and what drew people to it in the first place. That's not because he's trying to imitate what somebody did sixty years ago, but because he deals with the stuff that troubles the human spirit in the same manner that blues people of old did. Of course, he's not singing about the things from yesterday that caused the blues; what it's like to be on a chain gang in the deep south, picking cotton, or being a sharecropper, he's singing about the things today that scrape us raw and leave us wounded in the heart.
"Hungry Again (Put Me In A Hole)", the opening track on the disc, describes the kind of life that can make a person feel too much. "Left alone too much as a small boy / Learned to walk and talk from the animals / they taught me what to eat". Neglect and abandonment are sure fire ways to turn a person in on themselves as they feel like they don't matter and they know the people who are supposed to care about them don't, so why should anybody else? That song expresses the hunger that burns in a person's chest to be wanted, to know that somebody cares about what happens to them.
The great thing about Jake La Botz's music is Jake himself and what he brings to his performance of the tunes. His guitar work is elegant in its simplicity, as he picks out individual notes with the precision of gem cutter splitting a stone to expose the heart that was hidden within the matrix. The notes he plays traces a similar path through his songs, as they follow a line that lead us to the heart that beats inside each tune - its emotional core. Speed isn't important for these songs, in fact it would be the worst thing possible for them. We gloss over emotions in our world by whizzing past them, so Botz's music allows us the opportunity to stay in the moment and properly experience them.
Jake's singing voice is as singular as his songs, and as raw as their content. Like the folk and blues singers of old, Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, his voice is that of a person who has experienced the world and seen his share of hardship. Yet in spite of that, or maybe because of it, there is a strength of spirit to his voice that makes these songs positive experiences. In a world where men aren't supposed to express their feelings, here's this guy pouring his heart out in a strong, sure voice that cracks with emotions. If nothing else it's certainly an example for other men to follow about how to be emotionally real...
Jake La Botz's Sing This To Yourself And Other Suggestions For A Personal Apocalypse is as fine a collection of traditional acoustic blues music as you're going to find anywhere. The fact that it also happens to be some of the most emotionally honest and beautifully passionate music as well makes it even more special. Do yourself a favour, the next time your feeling down, give Jake a listen, his blues are the best medicine money can buy.
-BLOGCRITCS MAGAZINE (Richard Marcus)
Dark blues from Jake La Botz
"La Botz’s music is not all minor-key sadness. “The music is sweet and tender and lyrics are going a different direction,” he says, “a nice cocktail. If we look directly into our experience of sadness, there’s so much there, so many different shades and flavors, it’s never the same thing and never the same thing twice. There’s always some beauty and sweetness there. That was kind of the point. We live in a society so afraid to feel and have a full experience. This is, in a way, a reaction to that. We’re all totally alone with our feelings. With the music, it’s an opportunity to open up to your own situation.”...The new album starts with “Hungry Again (Put Me in a Hole)” and that hole theme is one La Botz returns to later on. A graveyard fixation? “Put me in the hole says it so plainly, it’s the plainest simplest way,” says La Botz. “On the last album, things were a little mythological and abstract. Here I wanted to say it more directly. What says it more directly than being put in a hole? Claustrophobia, in the ground, not much light… “ LaBotz plays 21 Nickels and the Brendan Behan."