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Jesse Sykes And The Sweet Hereafter
Like, Love, Lust And The Open Halls Of The Soul
Barsuk Records
www.jessesykes.com


If this is the future of American music, maybe this country actually has something to look forward to. As we are still digesting our lists of the best albums of 2006, Jesse Sykes And The Sweet Hereafter make a bold case for album of the year - not even 3 months into 2007 - with their latest release on Barsuk Records, Like, Love, Lust And The Open Halls Of The Soul. They have that priceless ability to cross the boundaries of country, rock, blues, and folk - both modern and antique. Listening to this record, one can imagine Hank Williams crying in his beer, Neil Young relaxing at the piano with his harmonica, and a super cast groupies consisting of John Lennon, Bjork, and Jack White. There is quite a 60's feel to this album, especially Sykes' vocals and vocal harmonies, conjuring up the ghosts of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Who's earlier works. Jesse Sykes has been blowing up Seattle's alt-rock scene for years, and soon a lot more folks are going to be aware of their music around the globe.

True to traditional American country music, Like, Love, Lust And The Open Halls Of The Soul explores the darker, depressing sides of life, but in a catchy, toe-tapping manner. Besides the creative songwriting, this is largely due to the wonderful guitar playing of Phil Wandscher (ex-Whiskeytown). The excellent production of Tucker Martine will make you feel as if you're sitting in front of Wandscher's amp, soaking in the warm sounds of reverb and vibrato driving the tubes. The lead parts consist of very simple, yet absolutely captivating melodies, keeping the time, checking the rhyme, and providing a wonderful backdrop to the mood of the songs. The cellos, horns, and violas on the album add to this as well. "It's better not to give your soul away, give yourself away, away too soon," suggests Sykes with her signature spooky voice in "Aftermath." "Some say there's too much love, we just haven't found ours yet."

It may sound like a depressing album, but to the depressed maybe, it's a quite uplifting reminder that misery does indeed have company. The album opens up with "Eisenhower Moon" which has some beautiful Neil Young -style harmonica. The strongest tracks are "You Might Walk Away", "How Will We Know?" and the Houses Of The Holy-ish "LLL". My personal favorite of the album was "I Like The Sound." The guitar riff duels between major and minor chords, and is the perfect description of the entire album, switching moods between pleasant cheerfulness and rage and despair. "It's Hard Not To Believe" is the lullaby my mother never sang to me, yet I'll be drifting off to fantasies and nightmares with the help of this song for a while.

-Leeny

Track Listing:
1. Eisenhower Moon
2. LLL
3. You Might Walk Away
4. The Air Is Thin
5. Spectral Beings
6. How Will We Know?
7. Hard Not To Believe
8. Aftermath
9. Station Grey
10. I Like The Sound
11. Morning, It Comes
12. The Open Halls Of The Soul


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