Jesse Terry - When We Wander
There are times in every life where one feels the need to take stock, look at where they've come from, look at where they are and picture where they are heading. There is nothing like the arrival of a child to trigger these feelings and that seems to be what has handed Jesse Terry the inspiration behind his latest record "When We Wander". It comes with a rich organic feel that comes from having been recorded live and it provides a perfect backing for Jesse to examine who and where he is today and just what a life he currently has, with a wealth of online supporters keeping him going throughout the pandemic.
The cover picture and the ones in the cd booklet show a man seemingly content and thankful for his situation in life and the contents of this fan funded release are definitely testament to that.
The title track "When We Wander" is very much looking back to the exuberance of being free to head off and explore the world. This is done with his wife and you can't help but share Jesses's enthusiasm for spontaneity with lines like
"You'd leave this home we built in a moments time
and sail away without knowing the wind
For we may never have the chance again"
Written at a time when you could wander and predating the birth of his daughter, there is an upbeat summer feel encapsulated by the acoustic guitar. while the pedal steel sound seems to anchor this as a reminiscence.
"Strangers In Our Town" has a similar feel of life being one great adventure
"It's been ten thousand miles since we've been home
and if feels good to hold you and know we're alone"
Driven by Neilson Hubbards perfect percussion, and punctuated by piano and strings there is almost a hint of Springsteen as Jesse says "So Honey put down your hair and put your hand in mine!
"Ghost Stories" - sees Jesse appraising his previous single life, of who and where he once was
"I was naked to the eye, barely flesh and bone
Someone long forgotten when you said "Hello""
He has the need to get this off his chest lest something from the past disturb his present and future and he is very much open to this being a reciprocal opening up knowing that nithing could shake his faith in his partner.
"So if you've got ghost stories you'd like to tell - You'll never scare me away"
For a ghost story it comes with a beautifully played guitar supplemented by piano and violin that is a thing of beauty. Jesse's vocals do carry the timbre of someone laying himself completely open.
"Hymn of A Summer Night" once again finds Jesse looking back, only remembering the good times, when
"There was never any fear" and admitting
"I don't 'remember the ice and snow or walking the road
when my sweetheart said she don't love me no more"
It is with "If I Were The Moon" that the focus very much switches to the present, that need to be protective. Neatly mixing the physical and the astronomical ( well he did write "Stargazer!") in the lyrics, we find Jessie providing light on dark back roads, and talking of "Watching over you" while fitting in mentions of "High Tides" and his "gentle pull". It is heartfelt and comes with Jesse singing at his most restrained.
One can only assume that becoming a parent lies behind "Is There An Answer?" for it comes with an almost Lennon like simplicity lyrically as well as musically for a better world as he ponders
"Is there an answer or is war in our blood
Is there an answer that can make our story love?"
If the previous track had something of a blurred woolly view of the world then "In Spite Of You" has a laser like focus as Jesse takes aim and fires, recalling the time he spent in a residential facility for behaviour modification. It contrasts the cruelty of the regime and contrasts it to how his life has turned out for the better
There are heartbreaking descriptions of
"the telephone once a week, smoke signals that were never seen
by anyone who had the means to rescue us"
and mentions of those who have "since fallen - guess all the innocence you stole was just too much"
Fortunately Jesse is able to contrast those memories with the present where
"I wear a ring, I hold a life I know will never be forsaken"
There's an ever present Townes Van Zandt feel to the song that perfectly matches the brutal honesty of the lyrics.
If there was to be any danger of Jesse sounding too self satisfied with his current position in life then there is a cautionary reminder of just fragile that position can be and "Innocent Ones" shows the temptations that are always there.We find Jesse in a parking lot having bought some whiskey while around him revelry from the Independence Day celebrations abound "Gunpowder is rushing in on the July breeze".
Thankfully the situation is redeemed by thinking back to those at home, that stirs some inner fortitude
"Our baby girl is sleeping peaceful inside, and I can't let her live a life like mine"
There's an undoubted Tom Petty musical influence on the chorus and a joyful recognition that
"It's time to trust somebody before I lose my innocent ones".
The album closes with its most overtly country sounding song in "Just Out Of Sight" which is a reassurance that all will be well and not to give up, for something special ,"the diamonds just out of sight" might be coming. It's a charming validation of someones faith in your ability, someone who knows that consequences that giving up would bring
"You would be lost, questioning, wrestling, a shell of the one I need"
With the female backing vocals giving his wifes words any additional resonance they might require and Will Kimborough's mandolin providing an exquisite backing there could be no better way than this to close the album.
With "When We Wander" Jesse has undoubtedly made a marvellous statement of intent for the future, one hopes that the world situation improves to a point that he can wander once more and start accumulating stories and adventures to inspire him further.