With the release of its self-titled debut album, ‘Great American Racer’ – a project by singer-songwriter Jake Dryzal – takes listeners on an emotional journey. Building on Dryzal’s ambient pop roots as Blue Navy, this concept album artfully combines folk rock, heartland rock, and dream pop, delving deep into the heroin and opioid crisis afflicting Rust Belt communities across the U.S.
The album was written over a period of two years and recorded over the course of three. Dryzal wrote all of the songs himself and performed a majority of the instruments. Autumn’s drumming, Brandon’s engineering, Mark’s guidance, and Micah’s mastering all contributed to creating a sonic landscape that perfectly complements the emotional weight of the lyrics.
The album opens with “Desire”, a slow-burning ballad that builds gradually, with Dryzal’s vocals floating over a bed of acoustic guitars, delicate piano, and lush strings. From there, the album takes us on a journey through the ups and downs of addiction, loss, and grief, with each track adding a new layer of emotional depth to the overall narrative.
One of the standout tracks on the album is “Sunrise and Mellow”, which features Tyler, Emma, and Nicholas on vocals. The track features soaring harmonies, intricate guitar work, and a driving rhythm section that gives it a real sense of urgency.
Another highlight of the album is “From The River”, a hauntingly beautiful track that features Dryzal’s ethereal vocals floating over a bed of atmospheric synths and gentle guitar arpeggios. It’s a track that perfectly captures the album’s central theme of loss and despair and it’s sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who hears it.
Throughout the album, Dryzal’s songwriting shines, with each track offering a unique perspective on the opioid epidemic and its impact on Rust Belt communities. The album’s lyrics draw parallels between Johnstown, Pennsylvania’s three historic floods and the city’s diminishing industries with the current horrors of substance abuse. It’s a concept that’s executed with great care and attention to detail, and it’s clear that Dryzal has poured his heart and soul into this project.
Adding to its impact, a portion of the album’s profits will support anti-drug initiatives in Pennsylvania, emphasizing its message of hope and healing. In a post-release note, Dryzal shares his gratitude for the many contributors and his pride in the final product, stating, “Making this music really took me out of my comfort zone and challenged me at every possible angle, and for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.”
This album is a moving tribute to the opioid epidemic’s victims and a must-listen for those who seek to make a positive change in the world.