Excerpt from the November/December 2022 issue of Acoustic guitar | By Blair Jackson

I am a relative latecomer to the work of Connecticut-based singer-songwriter Jesse Terry. Although he now has eight solo albums under his belt, he wasn’t on my radar until late 2018. Sunset Avenue Sessions collaboration with Lizanne Knott and Michael Logen. I then looked at his previous albums and came away impressed by the warmth of his voice, the easy and natural flow of his songwriting and his excellent taste for arranging and producing. Its release in 2021, When we wander, was uniformly strong, my favorite of his albums of his own songs. He drew comparisons to everyone from James Taylor and Glenn Frey to Dan Fogelberg and Jackson Browne; all are apt (especially the last one), but he definitely has his own distinct singing and writing style.

His last, forget-me-nots, is a departure: a collection of 22 songs (2 CDs if that’s your medium of choice) of covers from a wide range of writers, styles and eras, beautifully presented in (mostly) acoustic settings and with a slew of top -Flight Nashville musicians and singers unified by Terry’s pleasing vocals and flawless fingerpicking and strumming. “The main acoustic guitar was my 1972 Alvarez Yairi DY57,” he tells us. “I also used a large Furch Millennium Series G23-CR auditorium; a Taylor 810 dreadnought circa 2000; a 12-string dreadnought-sized Furch Millennium Series D23-CR; a nylon-string Furch GNc 4-CR; and, finally, an Epiphone DeLuxe Masterbilt archtop. Terry also played a Deering Boston six-string banjo.

Chances are you know some or most of the songs he picked, but kudos to him for thinking outside the box with so many unpredictable choices: Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” (from Blue, 1970); “Walls” by Tom Petty (from the soundtrack of It’s the right one, 1996); “No Place to Fall” by Townes Van Zandt (from Flying shoes, 1978); “Hold On” by Tom Waits (from Mule variants, 1999); “Let It Grow” by Eric Clapton (from 461 Ocean Boulevard, 1974); “My Back Pages” by Dylan (from Another side of Bob Dylan, 1964); Jimmy Webb’s late ’80s “Adios”; and the Shirelles’ 1960 hit, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, to name a few.

A few of the songs are real pop hits that I’ve heard a million times, like “Gentle on My Mind” (Glenn Campbell), “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (Crowded House) and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road ( Elton John), but I must say that in these new arrangements sung by Terry, I heard the lyrics in a completely new light which made me appreciate them more.Another category of songs includes carefully reinvented American standards, including “Skylark”, “Some Enchanted Evening”, “Twilight Time”, “Harbor Lights”, and “Someone to Watch Over Me”.

Other acoustic guitarists on the album are the always imaginative Will Kimbrough (also outstanding in subtle electric, with Juan Solorzano) and, on one song, Alan Fish. Eamon McLoughlin contributes violin, viola and mandolin; Sam Howard is the rugged electric and upright bassist; Danny Mitchell, piano and organ; vocalists Mary Bragg and Mia Rose Lynne complement Terry’s vocals perfectly; and a special shout out to Fats Kaplin for his colorful pedal steel, lap steel and dobro work. There’s not one note too prominent or out of place in these tasteful small-band arrangements – thanks to Terry and his producer (and drummer) Neil Hubbard, who spearheaded the pandemic-era follow-up sessions in South Carolina and, virtually, in Nashville.

Without any implied negative connotation, I would call this album “easy listening” of the best genre. It’s friendly, inviting, familiar yet quirky and will take you to many places worth visiting, again or for the first time.

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