Jesse Brewster – The Lonely Pines
On his 5th release San Francisco’s Jesse Brewster focuses on songs that deal with moving on, acceptance of past mistakes, better opportunities, & real-life episodes. Due to a pandemic, he had to take advantage of the challenge, persevere & improvise to get what was unfinished, finished.
The musician should be up to that task. Jesse apparently may have been concerned but I think he succeeded on the LPs final 3 tracks he had to complete at his home studio.
The self-produced The Lonely Pines (drops March 5/Crooked Prairie Records) is a diversified 10-cut CD of distinguished songs. There’s nothing terribly different here. It’s good singer-songwriter material performed by a proficient multi-instrumentalist who knows what he wants to say.
The production value of the performances is vivid. The lyrics are not so many cliches as simplistic. There’s little clever wordplay but the melodies & musicianship make up for it. It’s a countrified-folk embellishment of California-style music. Many have success with this formula.
On “Kicking & Screaming,” Brewster has a vocal tone akin to Jackson Browne, yet – he doesn’t imitate Browne nor is he as intense & dynamic as Browne lyrically. But not many are. Brewster’s still a well-formed artist who has warmth & sincerity in his showcase. His lively blend of folk, Americana, rock & roll is well-balanced. The song is engaging.
“Bitter Pill,” gets away from the Browne comparison & Jesse sounds original. Nice story song. A typical tune that should attract the attention of other singers who don’t write as well as Brewster. It has an old-fashioned waltz beat with decisive instrumentation.
With a Jordanaires type chorale intro & lazy harmonica “Southern,” is a beautiful ballad, well-sung & memorable. “Close To Home,” & “So Much Good Right Here,” hits the accelerator & shows a more defining Brewster with some jangle to the guitars & steady beat. Jesse never lets the songs get away from him.
Overall, there’s not a bad tune. None of the songs are elementary – they’re all well-written for the style that Jesse articulates.
Jesse has said that the basic principle of songwriting is to “write what you know.” That’s a starting point for novices but an experienced songwriter should be a storyteller. They don’t necessarily have to possess first-hand experience in every facet. If it were true, many gunslinger tales, drug-taking, drunken down & out Tom Waits type songs with colorful fictional characters would have to be written off.
Imagination is required. Not every song needs a real-life experience. Though, if there’s a song that can be written from a life experience – by all means, write it. Authenticity is nice, but believability is also beneficial. The 35-minute CD is available at Bandcamp & https://jessebrewster.com/