Attempting to pin-down connection...

Jacob Allen, better known by his musical alias Puma Blue, is softly spoken. This hushed sensibility is apt in many ways; his music has often been likened to a “voicemail ballad” - a term affectionately coined by a close friend - its lo-fi quality creating a shared point of connection for his listeners.

“I like the intimacy, the closeness of the lips on the phone, the static in the background.” As he tells me, vulnerability is something he’s always strived for - a sensitivity he feels he got from his father.

 Yet Allen’s debut album ‘In Praise Of Shadows’ marks a transition, with a cleaner and smooth sound. He hopes his listeners notice that it’s one of maturity. “I strive for balance”, he says.

“I sometimes hear my old stuff and half the time, it's like, okay, that was sweet. But a lot of the time, I just think, Oh, God, you sound like another moaning guy.” He laughs. Although Allen views emotion as central to his creative practice, he has learned that you have “a responsibility as a songwriter to make sure your emotions don’t get the better of you.”

So, what’s changed? “The whole album was this sort of reflection,” he explains to me. Many of the songs were written a long time ago, tackling the familiar theme of heartbreak that punctured his earlier work. In the years since, though, he’s encountered an increasing disparity in his songwriting when he found himself writing his first “happy” love songs thanks to a new relationship.

“I realised those dark things were kind of necessary for growth and healing, it’s just all part of life”. He hopes that his listeners experience the same type of catharsis as he did when making the album and hopefully, find a space for broader connection.

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'In Praise Of Shadows' is out now.

Words: Tess Davidson
Photo Credit: Netti Hurley

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