Jesse Stockton’s music is inviting and familiar. His voice is soothing but sincere and his songwriting is enjoyable. His high tenor vocals serve to give a distinctive sound to his mostly classic country flavor. Jesse Stockton, in short, is exactly the kind of artist I like. His guitar is above average, his vocals are exceptional, and his songs make me ask a lot of questions. That’s just good art right there.
The beginning of the album, “Sinner” is a convicting and delightful song. Crystal clear articulation helps listeners connect not just with the music but the lyrics as well. With a sound that put me in mind of something the Avett Brothers might have put out in years past. That’s just about the highest praise I can give. The classic song reference, “you were always on my mind” delivered with emotional lyrics and well-placed guitar licks makes this a fun track from start to finish.
“Black T-shirt” is an upbeat folksy country song that again highlights Stockton’s soaring vocals. His phrasing is well done and his ability to sustain breath even singing in the upper register is admirable (and rare). His lyrics, mocking his own wardrobe as the reason for a breakup, is simultaneously endearing and relatable. The blended vocals on the chorus, which are the lament of the song, provide a perfect blending of voices and mood to suit the song. It’s just great.
“Can’t Get Away With It” and “Carla’s Repetition” both sound like they could have come off of an Old Crow Medicine Show album, which is also pretty high praise. The backing band really helps both of these songs come together. The bass line on “Carla’s Reception” makes the track really pop. It’s the plodding, almost meandering rhythm of the song that gives it that familiar sound, even if none of the listeners are quite sure what is so familiar about it.
“Long Dusty Trail” is an outlaw song of the highest order. It’s about an outlaw on the run. The bass line and the vocal lead both shine on this one. The blues chord progression and upbeat rhythm make listeners want to get up and dance. It’s the kind of jam I picture people dancing to back in the 50s or 60s, reminiscing the days of old when life was crazy and fun. “I’m a rambler and gambler, honey… I’m walkin’ down that long, dusty trail.” This is a party song that will get your friends saying, “wow, who IS this?” and you can say “oh it’s Jesse Stockton… he’s pretty awesome.”
Then just to show off his versatility Stockton follows up an outlaw song with an adventure song, “Uninvited” is about life’s difficulties. “Screaming for salvation’s made me dry…” It’s about suffering, struggling, and trying to survive. Again the string backing makes what seem to be pretty standard folk chord progressions turn into remarkably full songs. Stockton’s vocals emphasize the desperation of the lyrics. “I don’t wanna have to leave you but it’s getting close to quittin’ time.” In other words, for everything there is a season. Bravo.
There are a few other tracks on the album, but I hope I’ve accurately captured the overall sound here. Stockton is worth your time, especially if you like soaring tenor vocals. His emotional rasp makes every lyric cut deep and he’s good at writing those as well. This is a real singer songwriter that deserves more attention than he’s been getting. Please share this album with friends and buy it for your own collection. The majority of readers of this blog will find a real gift in the songs of Jesse Stockton. Enjoy them.