Jesse Terry – Forget Me Not Vol 1 & 2
Independent – February 19, 2022
do not forget me was originally released online as a series of cover EPs, recorded variously at South Carolina Air BnB with producer Neilson Hubbard on vocals and guitar, then in sessions in Nashville via Zoom with a stellar line-up which included the incredible Fats Kaplin on lap and pedal steel, dobro, fiddle and mandolin, violinist Eamon McLoughlin, Danny Mitchell on keyboards, bassist Sam Howard and Will Kimbrough on guitars. It’s a digital-only collection of songs from the decades through the 90s, although unlike the EPs, they don’t appear here in chronological order. It is, it must be said, a decidedly eclectic set of choices in terms of musical styles with songs variously representing the demands of his online pandemic shows, those he sang in his early high schools and colleges and songs presented to him by his parents.
It opens in the 70s with beautiful acoustic guitar and shimmering piano playback by Joni Mitchell A case of you of his classic Blue album, crossing the 80s for an almost hymn-like, string-colored cascading chord arrangement of Cyndi Lauper’s hit All night long. We are then back in the 60s with a dreamy and melancholic version of Glen Campbell Sweet on my mind then, from the first EP he titled The dawn of radioit returns to the standard piano and violin sounds of jazz Larkwritten in 1941 by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael and recorded by luminaries like Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Carmen McRae, Dina Shore and even Bob Dylan.
The other four tracks from that initial EP are strewn across both volumes, Terry’s voice floating softly through dappled string and a piano setting of Gershwin’s Some Enchanted Evening from 1926 and notably popularized by Sinatra and Fitzgerald, while it is to The Platters that he turns both for a flavored gypsy jazz violin Twilight time with Hubbard at the piano and a caress harbor lights.
Over the years, the 60s gets its second of four releases with a suitably nasal tale from Dylan my last pages which nods to The Byrds’ arrangement, while elsewhere strings and finger-plucked acoustics introduce Brenda Lee’s slow waltz 1963 US #2 hit You losewhich conjured up images in my head of being sung at dusk in a Welsh chapel, and, in a similar hushed and intimate atmosphere, from 1960, a Brill Building classic, originally written and recorded by Carole King on Tapestry and huge success for The Shirelles, Will you still love me tomorrow?
Returning to the 70s, his choices span a stylistic range from troubadour folk to a slow waltz by Townes Van Zandt. No place to fall to a softly hummed, washed reflective strings goodbye yellow brick road and an intoxicating arrangement of Clapton Let it grow which includes an echoey desert dobro guitar instrumental bridge, spare piano and orchestral strings.
Ten years later, Lauper is joined by what looks like a 12-string and McCartney’s staging of Crowded House’s Don’t dream it’s overa version of Steve Young Seven Bridges Road which, opening with just vocals and guitar before branching out into folk-country, tips the hat to Ian Matthews’ version, with the era’s final edit being rather the more obscure Goodbyea 1989 co-write by Jimmy Webb and Linda Ronstadt that appeared on the Cry like a downpour, howl like the wind in a gospel-country-tinged duet with Aaron Neville, Terry’s slightly lusher version.
The 90s was the last of the EPs to be released and again highlights the variety of his musical tastes, including, as it is, a reading of Tom Waits’ American roots. Wait and a stripped-down, finger-picked, tightly harmonized chime Walls by Tom Petty on the one hand and a strummed swing through the Celine Dion/Bee Gees duo Immortality and a piano and pizzicato strings reimagining of Coldplay Do not panic the other. And, just to emphasize the eclecticism, with Alan Fish’s undulating guitar, soft strings and harmonies, the remaining cover from the era is crazy nightingale, originally recorded by Craig Bickhardt, a country songwriter and singer who I suspect the vast majority won’t be familiar with, and who actually sings harmonies on the track. These are by no means radical reworks or reinterpretations, nor karaoke throwaways. Warmly sung and finely played by Terry, with largely relaxed and refined arrangements, these are affectionate love letters to his influences. They offer a musical tapestry that envelops you in an intimate embrace and soothes you with their gentle charm.