Album Review: Jesse Brewster – Wrecking Ball at the Concert Hall

Robert Black | March 8th, 2011

jesse-brewster_wrecking-ball The press for San Francisco’s Jesse Brewster hypes him as an alt-country outlaw — terms that are frequently thrown around for some fairly marginal performers. Fortunately, unlike the clutch of singers that just want to extol the virtues of whiskey and smoke, there is little of either on his sophomore release, Wrecking Ball at the Concert Hall. Jesse has more of a commercial bent and songs like the chart-worthy “Fuel For The Fire” would quickly find an audience with fans of Josh Turner and Jason Aldean.

Lyrically, Wrecking Ball is awash with loss, redemption and themes of a man coming to terms with everything that brought him to his knees long before we arrived: heartbreak, broken dreams, lost time and the kinds of mistakes that are never undone. Sonically, its flourishes of southern rock and traditional country that warm my Southern soul and in his best moments — reflective drinking songs and classic Nashville — he is firing on all cylinders. “Dive to Drown In” is an exceptional tune that finds a man who can’t let go of the past even as he clings to the bottle that is drowning him.

Unabashed nu-Country rockers like “God Fearing Man,” however, are unnecessary and seem an attempt to both burnish a sensitive side with toughness and snag airtime. He’s at his best when he dares to lay himself bare as on the soulful “All She Deserves,” where he hits the heights he reaches for without pandering. There’s no doubt he can sing and turn a clever lyric or chord progression, but I can’t help but wonder what a stripped-down production — as on the Strangers album from the original California Outlaw — might sound like.

3.5 Stars

  1. Rick
    March 8, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Nice review Robert. Can’t say its near enough to get me to bite on a whole album, but I just may have to check out a few of the tracks you shone the spotlight on. Be sure to bring an extra copy along at the next appearance of “Far West” at the Farmer’s Market Ranch Party! (lol)

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