• Image 01

Big Feature & Interview in The Day - UK & US Natural Release Tour!

Apr 1 | Posted by: Jesse Terry

Friends!

SO cool to see a story in actual print these days!

What an amazing feature in today's issue of The Day - Chatting about Natural, Stargazer, recording, US & UK touring, Muddy Waters Cafe, Harrison, my impending fatherhood & my big album release show THIS Friday night at The Knickerbocker Cafe in Westerly, RI!

Thanks to Rick Koster for such a wonderful interview & piece.

Click "Tour" tab on this website to purchase tickets for US & UK album release shows!

Read the full article here - I'll also paste below in case you can't access the link:)

https://www.theday.com/article/20180402/ENT10/180409888

Cheers & see you out there soon - love, jesse

April 2nd - The Day - New London, CT

by Rick Koster

North Stonington songwriter Jesse Terry is without question one of the nicest, genuinely kind and perpetually cheerful people you'll ever meet. As such, no matter how much he deserves to be there, Terry is far too humble and unassuming to kick, claw and elbow his way into the metaphorical chamber reserved for cloud-floating melodists such as Lennon, McCartney and George Harrison, Brian Wilson, Jeff Lynne, Neil Finn, Harry Nilsson, Jason Falkner, Difford/Tilbrook, Roland Orzabel, Ron Sexsmith, Roy Orbison, Owsley, Alex Lloyd, Josh Ritter, Jackson Browne and Ryan Adams.

Fortunately, critics and fellow songwriters have no problems doing that for him.

Indeed, Terry has been compared in print or via media to every one of those artists and more. Though Terry's built an established career over the last eight years — a half-dozen albums and over 1,000 concerts across the globe — the superlatives really started rolling in last September. That's when Terry came out with a pop masterpiece called "Stargazer." But that's not all. The storm surge of adulation has only increased with last Friday's release of yet another gem of an album called "Natural."

Six months is a very short time to record and release two albums, but, by design, "Stargazer" and "Natural" were actually recorded during the same Nashville sessions with producer Josh Kaler.

"What happened was, 'Natural' was originally supposed to be a giveaway, a gift to 500-plus contributors to a PledgeMusic funding campaign for 'Stargazer,'" says Terry, calling from home last week during a short tour break. He has just finished the American leg of an in-progress USA/UK tour and will perform an album release show for "Natural" on Friday in Westerly's Knickerbocker Music Center. "For years, a lot of listeners have asked for a stripped-down acoustic album, and we thought this was a great opportunity to do that. We could showcase a few songs that would be on the 'Stargazer' album, and it would be a quick turnaround — a sort of instant-gratification gesture to thank the contributors."

But the quick-hit, man-and-his-acoustic-guitar plans for "Natural" quickly expanded as per Kaler's vision and connections. The producer loved the stark quality of the material and performances, but he also had a burst of inspiration. Kaler had worked with folk legend Dar Williams and, thinking her lovely voice would provide a spectral and lulling counterpoint to Terry's warm tenor, asked if she'd consider providing harmonies on a few of the songs.

"Dar got right back to Josh," Terry says, "and said the songs were beautiful, and she'd be happy to sing on them." All these months later, Terry's voice rises in excited disbelief over his good fortune. "Dar is an early hero of mine, and I kind of jumped up and down and freaked out because I'd never met her before and had no idea whether she'd even heard my music."

Williams' harmonies worked so well that Kaler and Terry decided to push the concept further. They reached out to other female vocalists they both admired — Kim Richey, Sarah Darling, Cary Ann Hearst, Annie Clements, Erin Rae and Liz Longley — and, ultimately, 11 of the 12 songs on "Natural" ended up with one of those vocalists providing harmony lines.

"One of my favorite dynamics is the counterpoint and emotional relationship between the male and female voice," Terry says. "I thought it worked really well and sounded a lot more interesting than just me singing." He laughs. "And I suspect Josh felt the same way."

Ultimately, "Natural" took on a life of its own, and the decision was made to release the album to the public at large — though, of course, the original pledgers in the music-funding campaign got digital downloads of the album in January.

After "Natural" was finished, Terry and Kaler jumped into the "Stargazer" project. By design, the idea was completely different than "Natural." "Stargazer" is a beautifully and creatively sculpted production with lustrous and sophisticated full-band arrangements and the sort of close-harmonies associated with Brian Wilson or Crowded House. The work, with 11 songs of stunningly written and gorgeously performed songs, summons the atmospherics and overall quality of ELO's "Eldorado" or Tears for Fears' "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending."

In fact, there are so many elegant and lovely songs on "Stargazer" and "Natural" that's it's easier to say, "Hey, listen to this — ALL of it," rather than try to single out four or five individual titles. In two very different ways, "Stargazer" and "Natural" are complete musical visions that speak to the idea of the "album as an artistic statement" — something increasingly rare in the era of streaming and downloads.  

One thing that leaps out to the listener is how much Terry's songs stand out regardless of the production philosophy. A graduate of the Berklee School of Music, Terry is, yes, one of those lucky souls with a rare and innate gift for structure and melody that sometimes seems celestial. But he also works very hard at songcraft and fervently believes that both inspiration and devotion to craft are part of every song.

"There are definitely both aspects to songwriting," Terry says. "Sometimes it's a matter of catching those really beautiful moments of divine inspiration and making sure you record them or write them down. Sometimes, you have to work really hard. A song is kind of like a seed that grows and you have to nurture it. I wish I could say (a song simply) downloads into my brain, but more often you get a magical little glimmer and you have to recognize it and that's when the elbow grease comes in. You need both. If you get too crafty, you lose some of the emotion and magic, but you can't overwork it, either."

With both albums now out, Terry continutes working the road to get the word out. In addition to luminous critical reviews, he's getting airplay in unprecedented fashion, with songs popping up on big radio station in places like Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and even England's notoriously tough to crack BBC. 

"It's pretty exciting," Terry admits, "but there's still a lot of work to do." In his usual fashion, he credits the "great people who are really, really good at their jobs without whom I couldn't make it as a quote-unquote indie artist. A big part of this is the joy of making music and striving to be better and not being afraid to fail. We've got a long way to go, but that's part of the adventure, and it's something I get to share with my wife, Jess, and my family."

Said family, by the way, is expanding. Not long ago, he and Jess rescued a puppy who likes to play in and eat snow. They named him Harrison, after George. More recently, as per the results of a pregancy test nervously opened in one of their favorite spots, New London's Muddy Waters, they've learned a new little girl is on the way.

"It's a pretty great life," Terry says. "We take every bit of good news and celebrate. There are a lot of songs yet to write."

WISHFUL THINKING

Jesse Terry's melodic gifts are substantial. As such, it seemed fun to ask him for a short list of melodies he wishes he'd written — and which also are maybe not as well known as standard bearers like "Here, There and Everywhere" or "God Only Knows." Terry was delighted by the assignment, and added that "now I feel like writing a new song." 

1. "Adios" by Jimmy Webb (as recorded by Linda Ronstadt with Brian Wilson's harmonies) — "One of the best melodies of all time. Really, Jimmy has to be in the conversation for one of the best songwriters ever."

2. "Night Ride Home" by Joni Mitchell — "Her melodies and vocals can be (unjustly) overlooked at times because of her incredible lyrics, but this song kills me."

3. "Sky Blue and Black" by Jackson Browne — "Again, Jackson's not a small artist by any means, but this is one of those melodies that NEVER tires for me. It rolls off the tongue and conveys such emotion. It makes me want to cry. I really wish I'd written this!"

4. "Louisiana" by Randy Newman — "His songs are such masterpieces and his singing style is so understated and conversational that it seems easy to overlook just how great his melodies are. I love that he's introducing children to great music through his soundtracks, too."

5. "Back Seat of My Car" by Paul McCartney & Wings — "I don't hear a lot about this song, but it's one of my favorites from McCartney's solo work. It feels like a Brian Wilson melody, and I love the arc of it. There's only one Macca."

6. "Picturing You" by Jeremy Lister — "I couldn't find this on Spotify, but this song, by my great friend Jeremy Lister (who sang a bunch of the harmonies on 'Stargazer'), absolutely SLAYS me."

Syndicate content