Jesse Terry – Empty Seat On A Plane
2012, Jesse Terry
2012, Jesse Terry
Jesse Terry is an award-winning singer/songwriter based in New York City, but you won’t often find him there. Terry is an old-school road warrior, spending much of his time in clubs across the U.S. or at festivals where he can share his music with more fans, potential or otherwise. Along the way, Terry has won Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the CMT/NSAI Songwriting Competition, among others. Terry has shared the stage with the likes of Darrell Scott (Robert Plant), Shawn Mullins, Dar Williams, David Wilcox, Lori McKenna and Rachel Platten. Jesse Terry released his newest album, Empty Seat on A Plane, in July of 2012. Produced by Neilson Hubbard (Kim Richey, Glen Phillips, Matthew Perryman Jones), the album moves with deep emotional waves and sparkling storytelling.
Terry kicks things off with “Empty Seats On A Plane”, a solid piece of folk pop that is deep in imagery. As the title track and opener, it’s actually one of the more mundane tracks Terry wrote for the album, but a solid, if quiet, start. “Let The Blues Skies Go To Your Head” is surprisingly introspective given the title. Terry’s voice is distinctive, buzz worth with hints of a whine at times. “Wishful Thinking” is a gentle piece of Americana that’s aesthetically pretty and poetically refined. Terry continues to catalog his deepest thoughts and fears.
“Grace On A Train” is a standout track, with Terry seemingly telling two stories at once, one real and one in allegory. This is as fine a piece of songwriting as you’ll find, and sounds like a hybrid cross of Paul Simon and John Mayer (at his best). Terry shows off his ability at subtle word play in “Tightrope”. There’s definitely more of a Paul Simon feel to this tune, and Terry’s literate lyrics and sprightly, rhythm-driven guitar arrangement are real charmers. Jesse Terry goes for a gospel/Americana feel on “Bitterroot Valley”, the result is a pleasant listen, although it’s not clear from the listener’s perspective whether Terry really got to where he intended on this one. A funky backbeat drives “Blue Touches Blue”, which plays as an almost perfect counterpoint to “Bitterroot Valley”.
“Coyotes” is a heartfelt ballad about being an outsider looking in. Jesse Terry develops the song perfectly, with tremendous slow build in energy and intensity that sucks the listener in. The spacey guitar work that dots the edges of the song is unusual and cool, a fine artist’s touch. Terry strips things down to the base for “Barefoot Child”, a straight-forward reflection on the world that is full of a quiet beauty and grace. “Sacred Or Nothing” ironically turns on itself perhaps, turning out to be one of the two weakest tracks on the disc, but Terry recovers well with the awkwardly sentimental but comely “Scenic Route”. Jesse Terry says goodnight in perfect fashion with the swaying rhythms of “Pearl Diver”. Terry paints entire scenes in words here against a clear, clean melody that is built of a simple beauty.
Jesse Terry is an amazing talented singer/songwriter. His ability to sculpt powerful images with words impresses from the outset of Empty Seat On A Plane. His tendency to get wrapped up in his own inner emotional dogma can be kind of a drag for the listener as well. At his best, Terry is like the second coming of Paul Simon as a songwriter, with a voice that’s somewhere in the range of John Mayer. At his worst moments, Terry’s voice and inward focus can make him sound whiny or self-pitying. On balance, Empty Seat On A Plane is a powerful experience for the listener – one bound to make a lasting impression. There’s little doubt that Jesse Terry is going to have a big following one day.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Jesse Terry at www.jesseterrymusic.com.