In times as turbulent and uncertain as those we currently live in, it seems to me that the music we listen to would go one of two ways: escapist or reflecting what’s happening around us. But, what if there was a third way? Music that reflects uncertainty while also sounding hopeful for the future of our world? In Stargazer, the new album from US musician, Jesse Terry I think we’ve found this.
I once read that during a recession, sales of red lipstick go up as we try to keep our spirits up during doom and gloom, a story that appeals to me as a fervent lover of red lipstick as pick you up, whether or not there’s any truth in it. As an escape from reality it’s pretty sure fire, albeit on a short term basis. Another escape route from reality is music, both songs that you’ve loved forever and new music that takes you to a far off, magical place. I have a pretty extensive music collection but I’m always looking for more to add and I recently came across a US artist named Jesse Terry whose new album, Stargazer really lifted me with its upbeat tone of hope and thought provoking lyrics that lead you to think about the bigger picture. When I spoke to Terry, I asked him if was a happy person and he said that “most people see me as a happy guy…I’m happiest when making music and that’s when most people do see me. In Stargazer, we talk about choosing your own universe and it’s the journey that’s lots of fun, it’s good to still be on that journey”. The title track is filled with hope, compassion and empathy, demonstrated by the lines “I know how much it hurts, you’re free now to choose your universe, I know your time’s coming soon”.
Stargazer as a whole uses a lot of strings which make an emotional impact and have been thoughtfully arranged as part of the song, rather than added as an afterthought. They work so well that I would like to hear several songs as classical works as well as acoustically, particularly Woken the Wildflowers. Terry and I bonded over the sometimes overuse of ‘extraneous strings’, my own phrase!, where it really doesn’t suit the music but in this case, Terry says that he was aided by a great arranger, Danny Mitchell and the songs were written with the strings in mind. “Think Abbey Road without George Martin’s string arrangements” is how Terry put it.
The Abbey Road connection is apt as Terry cites The Beatles as his most overriding musical influence (he talks about them with reverence and awe in his voice) along with Jeff Lynne, Brian Wilson, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and The Travelling Wilburys. All of these can be heard on Stargazer but as well as The Beatles, I felt that Paul McCartney’s later solo work made it’s presence felt with Terry even sounding like McCartney at times. Listening to the rest of the album, Dangerous Times struck me as a flowing melody with lyrics that really make you think about the world around us and our place within it whereas Only A Pawn had the same effect but with a stand out intro and use of pizzicato strings. Dance In Our Old Shoes and Runaway Town pass the had to get up and dance test parts and to me sound positively Springsteenish.
Stargazer is available here:
Jesse Terry is touring the UK in October – click here for info.