Jesse Brewster is a singer songwriter who has always been on the move so it’s not surprising that his latest album, The Lonely Pines, is full of songs about moving on. Now based in San Francisco, Jesse was brought up California and Hawaii, attending ten schools by age twelve. This early experience of moving around meant that in his later life as a travelling musician, he immediately felt at home on tour.
The ten tracks on The Lonely Pines finds Jesse focusing on different types of transit, either toward acceptance of past mistakes or in the direction of better opportunities. Jesse’s brand of Americana lends itself to this focus, with the rhythms and sounds varying from folk to country to alt rock enabling him to explore moving forward and away.
Kicking off with the anthemic ‘Let’s Run Away‘, the Americana sound is up front, with it’s fast beat mirroring the lyrics and propelling the story to conclusion. Love against the odds and the need to run away from a bad situation are encapsulated in three minutes, leading straight into the similar sound of ‘Kicking and Screaming‘. Pain and the feeling of not belonging are themes throughout the The Lonely Pines and Jesse’s lyrics are poignant and to the point:
“…never make the same mistake because the pain before was so much more than I could ever take”
“…go where we’re not wanted, to find out where we belong”
‘Bitter Pill‘ continues in a similar vein, looking back at and continuing away from yesteryear – it’s also very short showing that Jesse’s not afraid to challenge the listener right to the end of a song.
The stand out song for me is ‘Woman in My Mind‘. A traditional sounding Americana song with a distinct country twang, the protagonist regales us with the thoughts and memories of his perfect woman, met once and “forever frozen in time…always the perfect woman in my mind.” The reality as he knows, would never meet the idealised remembrances. Although the subject might sound gloomy, the warmth of the melody and instrumentation makes it anything but.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Jesse was forced to finish the album’s final three tracks in his home studio, playing nearly every instrument himself. Among them is ‘Close to Home‘, a roadhouse rocker filled with vocal harmonies and jangling guitar riffs, in which Jesse turns the isolation of the COVID era into an opportunity to count his blessings, rather than focus on his obstacles. As most of us have discovered in this past year, family and friends, people are everything we need as humans to survive and thrive – may the counting of their blessing never become taken for granted again. ‘So Much Good Right Here‘ is in the same vein, albeit with a much more country tone and warns of the dangers of “too many folks…spent all their time looking for that pot of gold”. Jesse’s first hand experience of learning to count blessings derives from the loss of his brother from kidney disease and that same disease afflicting himself before a life saving kidney transplant from his wife.
The album finishes up with a beautiful Celtic folk song, ‘Amber Kinney‘ which weaves a tale of Amber Kinney leaving an abusive relationship to find peace and a new life, “any life was better than the one she’d come to know”. It’s a beautifully happy, positive note to end.
For a writer with five solo albums, Jesse’s advice is all about the art of song writing:
“My advice to songwriters is to do your best to see ideas through; you never know where they’ll lead. There was some thread of inspiration that caused you to write down the words or play that chord progression initially, and If it turns out to be a throw-away, that’s OK. For me more often than not those ideas that I almost gave on turn out to be songs I finish and love. Early on I thought songs that came out all at once – the inspired hour or two where everything just makes sense and flows – were destined to be the strongest material. Over the years though I’ve learned that great songs can fall out of the sky, but putting in the labour and not being afraid to fail have yielded some of my best work.”
The Lonely Pines is released on 5 March.
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