Born and raised in Kansas, but now residing in Boise, Idaho, indie folk musician Jesse Blake Rundle is one of those rarefied artists who absorbs his topography and uses it to colour his work. Subsequently, his sophomore album, Next Town’s Trees, comes adorned in earthy, autumnal hues of burnt yellows and rustic reds, while his acute lyrical observations, cutting yet cathartic, act as a balm to soothe our troubled times.
Opening with the quiet storm that is the album’s lead single, ‘Fire’, Next Town’s Trees gets off to a rather understated start. Yet, almost imperceptibly, layers of sound gradually wrap the listener up in a blanket made of warm harmonies and luxurious, silky-soft trombone. The affect is a kind of musical anaesthesia, and with Jesse’s vocals buried slightly in the mix ‘Fire’ (like much of this album) is given an otherworldly quality, and each track is akin to being haunted by a memory you thought forgotten. The tones and timbres that Jesse works with have been specially selected to resonate on a primordial level, and
subsequently Next Town’s Trees is a record that touches both your heart and head. It is almost as if Jesse, by plumbing the depths of his psyche, is reaching into ours and is creating music by tugging our heartstrings. It is a very personal connection, and one few artists can make but Jesse has that power, ‘Fire’, and indeed the whole record will reverberate through your soul long after the disc’s stopped spinning.
Next Town’s Trees is an album that flows smoothly like a river wending its way towards the ocean, and while it is not a concept album per se the lyrical themes of love and loss provide a common thread that stitches all eight of these songs together. Neil Young at his most emotive, ‘Hand In Hand’ has the feeling a vast Arizona desert; guitars sparkle like stars in a vast crystalline sky, while Jesse’s wispy vocals are the wind which whisk a tumble weed across the sand. It’s all very cinematic and should conjure images of bruise-coloured sunsets burnt rocks in your mind’s eye. Despite its very low-key aesthetic, Next Town’s Trees is an album that demands your full attention; employing a full dynamic range, Jesse’s vocals are a constant surprise and appears from all angles, while the tones are very hypnotic and often transport you to another dimension before a sudden sonic shift shocks you back to reality.
Recorded at a time of immense personal change, Next Town’s Trees gives the impression that Jesse is exorcising demons as he takes the listener to some of his darkest recesses. Thus, Next Town’s Trees might sometimes be an uncomfortable experience, yet it is always rewarding. And, as the final refrain of ‘Stones’ rings out, you feel an equilibrium has been reached.
- Next Town Trees is released on the 3rd of March 2023 and is available from here.
- Official Website
- Fools & Ghosts
- I Want You To Know
- White Hot
- Yes, I’m Angry
- Hand In Hand
- Next Town’s Trees