Jake Wells has an interesting approach in his songwriting. In many of his songs, he writes through an experience, rather than about an experience. Roll Like Thunder is one of those songs. Somehow, through the music, you can almost see the thunderstorm through a window or underneath an overhang, watching the drops of rain cascade to the ground. It would almost feel natural to hear the sound of raindrops over the music. Though the lyrics are a bit vague, you feel this song more than hear it.
Musical Highlight: Rolling Vocals
During a thunderstorm, the constant drumming of rhythmic raindrops will be interrupted by a powerful, sudden roll of a thunderclap, echoing into the night. This effect is mimicked by the vocals in the song. The song begins with a simple, rhythmic strumming pattern on the acoustic guitar. The vocals don’t ease their way in, but upon their first entrance, they come thundering through in a three-part harmony. The added reverb deepens the echoing thunder-esque feeling of the song.
“Fall like the rain down, down, down…”
The melody of this line starts at a higher pitch, and descends to a lower pitch, emphasizing the lyrics of falling down, down, down, like the rain. Many of the melodic lines in this song descend, mimicking the falling of rain in a thunderstorm.
“I’ve made mistakes”
This opening lyric in the second verse is repeated three times, all stacked on top of each other, with the timing just slightly offset. This creates a cascading feeling, similar to how rain does not fall in a uniform rhythm, but is often staggered in its cascading descent to the earth
Jake Wells possesses such a rich, soulful tone in his voice, and his music isn’t played nearly enough. His lyrics are filled with symbolism, and bring his listeners to feel his experience, rather than simply tell about them. Go listen to his stuff!