In the face of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans native Jake Smith proves that even disaster cannot stifle the soul of the Big Easy. Released under Christian pop guru Michael W. Smith’s Rocketown Records, Smith’s debut album, Real, is a funky, soul-filled musical journey fused with penetratingly thoughtful lyrics that broach subjects of faith, loss, hope and love.

Musically, Real is significantly diverse. Tracks like “Get Up” and “Can’t Save Your Soul” are bright and groovy, while others like “Real Love” and “Run” are hauntingly melancholy. Yet within the diversity, a common thread of soulfulness unifies each track to the whole, creating the impression of a well-crafted, robust, and surprisingly mature project.

Somewhat reminiscent of Elliot Yamin’s earlier, and less impressive, 2007 release, Smith’s vocals are smooth and infectious, enrapturing the listeners’ attention without becoming overbearing. Yet behind these inherently accessible vocal performances is a depth and earnestness of lyricism that sets Smith worlds apart from the burned-over, made-for-radio pop which is so characteristic of today’s music scene. While comparisons to the artistry of John Mayer are surely overreaching, Jake Smith’s debut with Real heralds significant promise for this new artist.

As a final note, Smith has recently partnered with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. Smith cites his mother’s battle with breast cancer as the impetus for his involvement. As part of this effort, Smith will be engaging in an online informational campaign, as well as distributing literature and other information at his concerts. For more information, visit Smith’s personal site here.