A treasure chest of precious experiences.
Followers of Jesse Terry have waited a long time for the release of this, his seventh album, which was recorded in 2019 and primed for release in Spring 2020. With a myriad of shows booked in the US, UK and Europe to celebrate it, of course, the Coronavirus pandemic then struck, putting a halt to what had promised to be a tour like no other. Furthermore, with his wife losing her job due to the global crisis also, panic struck the family.
However, with some quick thinking and a dash of desperation, Terry secured some Arts funding and invested in live-streaming and recording equipment. What followed helped sustain his family throughout the otherwise bleak times: he set about performing online from a charming corner of daughter Lily’s nursery in the cosy family apartment in Connecticut, New England.
With his extensive, well-loved back catalogue plus the much-anticipated songs from this, the yet to be released ‘When We Wander‘ album to further entice listeners, Terry’s far-flung fans supported him in droves. Live from the Lilypad became a weekly event, with all attendees becoming honorary Lily-Padders. The affectionate name, born of one of the Lily-Padders themselves, created a friendly, loyal community who, in time, would not only be there for the music but also to check on & briefly chat with one another. A true reflection and testament to the contagious love Terry pours out in his songs and shows. Perhaps one of the most endearing songs, and certainly a popular favourite during that time, was ‘If I Were The Moon‘. A gentle yet compelling lullaby written for his daughter in which he declares:
“If I were the Moon, I’d always be near…, I’d carry you through the high tides…, I’d always be wide-eyed…., watching over you“. Simply beautiful.
An endearing mainstay of Terry’s writing is his autobiographical tendencies. He totally wears his heart on his sleeve, sharing many of his musings and life events through his songs and previous albums. ‘When We Wander‘, the result of his first writings after becoming a father, takes the listener deep into personal reflections with intriguing insight. The title song opens the album acknowledging and celebrating the free-spirited nature of the Terry family.
“When we wander, don’t it feel like we’re finally found, when we wander…., we always find our way somehow”. The lilting, atmospheric musicality reflecting the sentiment beautifully.
For more than ten years, Terry has toured extensively, with his wife and subsequently his daughter travelling with him most of that time. By contrast, ‘Strangers In Our Town‘ tells about when they are home and not living out of suitcases, motels, or courtesy of friends, fans or family along the way.
“This is the place where we disappear… it’s been ten thousand miles since we’ve been home, and it feels good to hold you and know we’re alone. Nobody knows us, this is where we find ourselves again….baby come on out, let’s be strangers in our town”. Besides his family, Terry loves and lives for his music career and demonstrates this magically in ‘Hanging the Stars‘ (check out the video and the captivating performance of his wife, Jess). Still, he never ceases to exhibit love for his family and clearly appreciates the private interludes between tours.
As well as being an enthralling songwriter, Terry confesses to having ‘Ghost Stories‘ he needs to tell. Events in his life that he worries could compromise him. In this song, he professes openness and honesty in his relationship, the alluring sounds of his acoustic guitar and mesmerising strings complementing the sentiment exquisitely.
In ‘Hymn of a Summer Night‘, Terry romantically relives his adolescence. “When we were sixteen, used to run these rooftops, used to own these streets…..there was never any fear, just the hymn of a summer night”. A very relatable image. ‘Little Fires‘ suggests darker, hidden memories that continue to burn inside. Still, Terry doesn’t stay down for long as the rootsy ‘Pretty Good Hand‘ breezes in with:
“I don’t know if I will ever ride in no fancy limousine…but I got you and nameless faces off the exits fo the highways…I got you…I got somebody who understands, and that’s a pretty good hand”
Other subjects Terry covers on this album include; a deep questioning of conflict in ‘Is There an Answer‘: “… I found kindness at every door so I don’t understand, yeah it’s so hard to tell, why the darkness is faring so well”. He then goes on to give himself a motivational talk in ‘Just Out Of Your Sight‘.
Terry is a consummate raconteur with a magnetic personality. The graceful openness of his songs, be they performed just him and his guitar or with the backing of a full band, have an immense impact. Anyone who has been to a Jesse Terry show will be aware of his honest, often humorous portrayal of his troubled childhood. With life and the odds having been stacked against him for a while, Terry hits back with ‘In Spite of You’ telling his story with a bitter-sweet gentility that can’t fail to move the hardest of hearts. Never one to lose sight of his own weaknesses, however, he then proclaims: “It’s time to trust somebody, it’s time to give it all up, it’s time to trust somebody, before I lose my ‘Innocent Ones’ ”
It is easy to compare Terry’s heritage and storytelling to that of Jackson Browne, James Taylor or Bruce Springsteen. Terry has had a fair share of adversity but fortunately is able to craft his experiences into beautiful works of art. His vocal is heavenly, and his melodies are sensational. With credit to producer Neilson Hubbard, the strings, subtle drums, pedal steel and understated harmonies throughout this album give a delicate gravitas, never compromising the beauty of the lyrics.
A symphonic delight for the heart and soul.