Every once in a while we just let loose and cover something we want to cover. Publication cycle be damned! Seriously this album from Jesse Daniel Smith is just a wonderful collection of, as the title indicates, pretty breakup songs. It might have just as easily been called wonderful new folk songs. Fans of the typical acoustic singer songwriter stuff we share around here will love this little album for all of its beautiful, awe-inducing delightfulness. Seriously try to make it through the first few songs without saying “aw” at least once.
From the very first plucked guitar string there’s an evident sweet softness to the music of Jesse Daniel Smith. He writes with a down home style, talking of drinking from Mason jars and such. Even the rhythm of the opening song has the plodding folk charm that we love. The lyric “life is only basic truths” is about enjoying the simple elements of life, even when they remind you of that special someone.
“The Turning Dial” shows us just how good Jesse Daniel Smith’s vocals are. Seriously you thought guys like John Mayer or Marcus Mumford were good singers until you hear Smith. His phrasing is absolutely terrific, especially on this song. Wait for it… yep, you’re saying “aw” aren’t you? It’s just one of those songs. “Won’t you please stay a while?” It’s just a beautiful reflection of love. The whole thing is a “please stay with me” poem, complete with adorable imagery and excellent picking.
The song “Nashville Baby (How I Tie My Shoes)” is how I discovered JDS. I was listening to Spotify and this track came up randomly. I stopped right in my tracks like I saw a ghost. The vocal and guitar work are about as near perfect as I have heard. The folksy phrasing reminds me of Steve Earle and the new, crisp sound reminds me of… heaven? I don’t know exactly, but the sentiment of the song is about longing to be with someone (or in a place) and it really works well. I could listen to this one on repeat for quite a while. Stick around for the bridge… it’s a nice walk.
The waltz time of “Lovely Montreal” shows another layer of Smith’s style. It’s endearing and would be amazing for a slow dance. Try it. Yeah, you. The following “Sincinnati” is about as classic a folk song as someone can write in the early 21st century. The “bump, bump” bounce along style (I’m sure there’s a technical term for this, but whatever you hear it) is really nice. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to sit on the porch and drink with a friend. It makes you want to share a cigar. It makes you hear cicadas in the background and want to be with people you love and miss. That’s what it makes me feel, anywayss.
“The Future Ain’t Written in Stone” and “It Rains in May” both have a sense of maturity and growth to them. The first being about provision and survival, the latter focusing on reconciliation after a breakup. It’s probably the song that most fits the theme of the album. The final track is the biggest divergence from the classic folk sound, but it still works with JDS’s signature vocal.
We’ll be following Smith on socials and his Soundcloud. We can’t wait to hear what he makes next. Some of his covers on Soundcloud are really phenomenal, too, so we’re definitely taking notice of this rising folk star.