Update: Neighbors ★★★★
I love “local interest” podcasts that seamlessly transcend their geography. In the third season of Neighbors in 2016, Jakob Lewis continued to hone his storytelling skills while producing stories from Nashville, Tennessee. The series has just debuted its fourth season, and you can read the press release here for a taste of what’s to come.
Neighbors was one of the first shows I ever reviewed, and I will always listen to it when a new episode comes out. Lewis has a knack for letting the subject tell the story, rarely inserting himself in the conversation. The sound design is phenomenal; it truly spoiled me as this was one of the first shows I loved and now I hold other shows to its sound design and mixing standard.
I had a strong reaction to The Fence Jumper – I still remember where I was when I heard it; it did make me stop and think, but I really disliked the piece. It was too glib and I felt it celebrated an irresponsible and less than thoughtful attitude; but as this show is simply about getting to know the people around you, I acknowledge I don’t like everyone around me and that’s ok, they’re still worth getting to know. Conversely, I loved The Baker’s Son, an episode about a man who works in a bakery whose son has celiac disease. Sam, the baker, poignantly shares what it’s meant in his profession and as a parent. I also enjoyed The Grave of Rosa Mary Dean, which reminded me of Lore – I appreciated the brief historical departure from the show’s regular focus on the living 🙂 I look forward to more diverse stories in 2017.
Neighbors is part of The Heard, a collection of sound-rich podcasts which you’ll find are very similar to Neighbors, and I recommend every member’s show. I did a network/collective spotlight on The Heard in 2016. Other shows you may recognize include How to Be a Girl, Nocturne, Rumble Strip, and ARRVLS.
Fans of Our Americana, The Rise of Charm City, The Junction: Stories from Ensley, Alabama, Changing Denver, or Rumble Strip will definitely enjoy Neighbors. If you’re looking for a starting point, definitely try one of the episodes I’ve listed above and the season 4 debut, The Oregon Trailblazer, but then go back and listen to Sans Houses – Music and The High Five. I’m sticking with my original ratings for the show which are below. Check out Neighbors if you like personal narratives with a ‘local’ bent – these neighbors are no doubt just like yours.
**** Original Review from 12/14/15 ****
Nashville-based Jakob Lewis narrates this show about people who live around us. The show is certainly Nashville-centric but like Home: Stories from LA, this does not detract from the great content of the show.
I was drawn to this show because I heard about the episode “High Five” from The Timbre. This particular episode is actually the most recent one as of this date, so I’ve been enjoying the older Neighbors episodes to get my fill. But “High Five” is really spectacular. Two neighbors have seen each other around and casually converse, but decide to make a point to meet each other every day for a high five. It’s a great piece that examines the human need for and benefit of commitment to others.
I like the sound effects and music in this show, and the production value is great; sound is well placed, appropriate, and not overdone. I think Lewis has a gift for mixing the episodes and choosing music. I also liked the production choice of weaving a theme into a set of episodes with “Sans Houses” in the title. Those who live in the street are still our neighbors and they have a story deserving to be told.
Lewis hasn’t published a new episode since October 2015, but promised to be back soon. This is a better “Strangers,” attempting to take the edge off of the uncomfortable feeling of the unknown that “people” represent for many of us. The show demonstrates through personal narratives that we do have something in common with others, and Neighbors in particular highlights that people who live in proximity to us are worth being understood.
What do you think of this podcast? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!
Audible Feast Ratings
Educational Value (3 / 5)
Pop Culture Value (3 / 5)
Host Listen-ability (4 / 5)
Flow & Production Value (5 / 5)
Humor (3 / 5)
Investigation (3 / 5)
Storytelling (5 / 5)
It is easy to stay engaged listening to these stories because I have neighbors, a neighborhood … it’s easy to transport myself to Nashville or think of these narratives as being someone in my own neighborhood. I guess I could just say it’s relatable. 😉
Makes Me a Better Person (5 / 5)
Overall Audible Feast Rating: (4 / 5)
You May Also Like …
Nocturne, KCRW’s UnFictional, Strangers, StoryCorps, Slate’s Working, The Heart, RISK!, Radiolab, The Leap, Crybabies, Death, Sex & Money, How to Be a Girl, Arrvls, First Day Back, Anxious Machine