I’ve always had a secret music crush on The Sick Leaves.
In my band days I had the pleasure of gigging with them a few times and although the crowds didn’t always get it or wouldn’t quite travel to the far off places they’d be booked, I was always kinda, just there – because there was, and still is, something incredibly enigmatic about literally everything they (well, Eksteen Jacobsz, really) creates.
Their first album I came across (I can’t promise I paid ANY money for it) quite by accident. After a while ‘Tunnel Vision’ became one of the most worn out records in my CD collection. At the time I think it was because he sounded like Brian Molko and appealed to everything I look for in music.
Now, 10 years later, I’m happily addicted to the brand new album ‘Travels With Charlie’. I’m also happy to say, as evolved and grown up as Eksteen may now be, this record is as true to The Sick Leaves as the old days – and makes me feel, think and resonate once again with a genre I thought I had lost interest in.
If you know Eksteen Jacobsz then you’ll know this talented man is not just one of the most versatile musicians in South Africa, but also one of the most forward thinking. To be frank, the fact they aren’t internationally signed has always blown my mind, but that may be something to do with Eksteen’s humble and non-agenda pushing nature.
Content to live life as a photographer and musician in White River in Mpumalanga, he’s hardly in the spotlight, but his attention to detail has by no means waned – taking almost 4 years to finish the record and letting life dictate his song-writing through everything from his father’s cancer and subsequent death to marriage as inspiration.
Through his other 4 records I have always been marginally moved, but nothing says The Sick Leaves to me as much as ‘Travels With Charlie’. It feels like it was a tough record to create – a personal struggle, an honest purge and lyrically it feels like he’s laying it all out this time. I’m also a sucker for melody and tracks like Six Inch Valley, Underneath It All and A Silver Lining are so perfect they’d be guaranteed slots on mainstream radio a few years ago (when you know, rock still mattered to radio stations). Vocally Eksteen has always been my SA favourite and tracks like I’ll Wait For You give the listener a taste of what’s really hiding behind the guitar.
All in all, I waited for this record for a while, not a Sick Leaves record as such, but one that affected me the way ‘Tunnel Vision’ did – and I have to say this is probably the best record the ‘band’ has ever produced.
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WORDS: CAROLINE HILLARY