Longtime Ahab’s Ghost singer/guitarist Jake Wylie Hess has a knack for making the most of an unpleasant time. In early 2020, the Milwaukee musician—who performs and releases solo material under the “Wylie Jakobs” moniker—spent the first few weeks of the COVID-19 crisis finally putting the finishing touches on his debut album that he says was four years in the making. Then in late 2021, when the Omicron variant was making its presence known in the Midwest, Hess decided to use his time stuck at home while quarantining on account of COVID to embark on another Wylie Jakobs project.

During that period of isolation, Hess decided he would write a song each day over a one-week span. The product of that ambitious artistic challenge is Seven Days, a self-recorded effort that will be released on April 14.

“The writing process was an exercise in trusting myself, relying on instinct and inspiration,” Hess tells Milwaukee Record. “It’s a cliche term, but this experience helped me to ‘get back to basics,’ and remember why I love writing music.”

As the name Seven Days suggests, the quarantine-crafted release features a total of seven songs. The record kicks off with a relatively upbeat track (especially given the album’s pandemic-prompted backstory) called “Sincerely, Yourself” that quickly gives way to the stripped-down streetgrass stylings of “Vampyre.” Over the course of 20-plus minutes, Wylie Jakobs blends booming vocals and (mostly) acoustic guitar to create material that ably alternates from being emotionally exposed (“Better Man”) to bleak and bleary (“Oh, Sweet Mary”) to lamenting (“Before The Dawn”).

Along the way, Hess gets some vocal assistance from Therese Thompson on touching album outlier/standout duet “Short Piece Of Twine,” and he peppers in sparing tambourine, bellowed backing vocals, and electric guitar solos on a few numbers as well. All told, Seven Days is the end result of a week well spent by Wylie Jakobs. You can hear these songs live at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn on Friday, April 14, when the solo project plays an album release show that also features Pay The Devil and Henry Berger of S.S. Web. Before Friday’s show, you can listen to Seven Days in its entirety below.

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.