Miles Gannett

REVIEW: Jesse Aycock’s Self-Titled is Gorgeous Production


Jesse Aycock

To my ears, this sounds a bit dated but after 2 listens to Tulsa’s quirky country-folk vocalist Jesse Aycock – he does indeed possess interesting songs & the performances are excellent. It’s basically pop music with lots of melodic kitsch with heavy-duty musical breaks ala Klaatu – remember them? More pop sugar follows on the earlier cuts with unorthodox vocals as persistent & different as David Surkamp of Pavlov’s Dog.

Deep arrangements with a 60s-70s feel. Sappy at times but I can’t deny the wonderful musicianship, showcase & soundscape Mr. Aycock creates. Progressive rock mixed with bubble-gum pop sensibilities — a gorgeous Aycock production. The music’s never boring once Aycock’s vocal eases into your ears. At times there are nice ethereal guitar runs. “Wreck Like You,” is engaging.

“In Light,” has good lyrics with a “feminine vocal” tint. It’s effective. Something different from today’s standard valium-induced vocalists who aren’t so much a rock as a turd.

Jesse tries to be original, glistens in his own way & has musical ability. A cool injection of a harmonica midway is cool because it’s unexpected. He has vivid lyrics.

H.L. Mencken once said, “no one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.” We got Dylan. We endured Tiny Tim. We had Jimmy Scott. We’re alright.

By track 4 Jesse should drop the vocal treatments & realize his song is solid enough to be sung warmer. Nice Beatle-like piano & progression. Maybe too much lemonade here – add bourbon and the tune’s perfect. Wonderfully constructed with plenty of room for a George Harrison “influenced” lead guitar. This will remind older listeners of that aesthetic.

Recorded in Arkansas, the self-titled 13-cut CD (Horton Records/Drops April 16) starts to pick up traction. The real show’s about, to begin with, “High Hopes” performed in a Nick Gilder tradition (“Hold on Me Tonight,” “Hot Child in the City”). Off the beaten path? Sure. But that’s how you discover.

“Sadder Than a Sunset,” has the late Clifford T. Ward balladry style. Good lyrical veneer. “Past Life,” returns to ass-kick upbeat Byrds-type jangling guitars, fortified drums & the music perks like an old coffee pot. Locomotive organ fills, propulsive pop music. Aycock (vocals/guitar/pedal & lap steel/ piano/mellotron) is a musician’s musician. The band: Paddy Ryan (drums), Aaron Boehler (bass), John Fullbright (piano/B3), Jason Crosby (piano/strings) with Allison Moorer & Lauren Barth (backup vocals).

The 13-cut CD was produced by Jason Weinheimer (backup vocals) & Jesse Aycock.

“Roll South,” — a slower, more lackadaisical beauty any country artist would adore. Mindful of — not like — the 1998 pop song “Come Clean,” by The Mysteries of Life.

The closer: “Woodland Park,” is structured with guitar beauty made up of multiple melodic watercolors run together. No fast-food. Essentially gourmet stuff. Savor it.

The 51:00 CD is available:

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