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A gentle return from an old master.

Music Review: Jesse Winchester – Love Filling Station

Jesse Winchester has returned with his first studio album in ten years. While he has never attained huge commercial success, he has built up a loyal following that has allowed him to tour and record for nearly forty years. As well, his compositions have been covered by such artists as Joan Baez, Elvis Costello, and Jimmy Buffett.

Winchester’s career can be divided into three distinct parts. He moved to Canada in the early 1970’s due to his views on the Vietnam War and, as such, his early material — in which he touched upon a number of topical subjects — reflected this angst. He remained in Canada after President Jimmy Carter declared amnesty in 1977, but was able to tour on a regular schedule again. His material then proceeded in a gentler direction. His output remained fairly prolific as he released seven albums between 1971 and 1981. Having relocated to the United States, his music now exudes maturity and contentment.

Love Filling Station is only Winchester's third release since the early eighties. He remains securely in the folk/country tradition. His nine original songs — out of twelve tracks on this release overall — are finely crafted, gentle additions to his catalog. There are songs of love and even songs of amusement.

The album starts very strong. “O What A Thrill” immediately demonstrates that his clear tenor is in fine form and, if anything, has only improved with age. The track is catchy, melodic, and lyrically strong. “Bless Your Foolish Heart” is an odd love song about why the popular girl foolishly chose him. “Wear Me Out” is a nice up-tempo tune on which Winchester demonstrates his pickin’ style.  

His cover of the old Ben E. King standard “Stand By Me” is excellent, interpreted as pure country with a fiddle perfectly complimenting his relaxing vocal. “It’s A Shame About Him” contains tongue-in-cheek lyrics in spite of its near-bluegrass sound.

There are two beautiful love songs, the first being the slow ballad, “Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding,” lovely despite its weird title. The second, “I’m Gonna Miss You Girl” is why I listen to Jesse Winchester. This tender song of love lost mines the memories of the heart via some well-constructed imagery.

Jesse Winchester is now in his mid-sixties and so hopefully it will not be another ten years before his next release. Love Filling Station finds him alive, well, and at his creative best.

About David Bowling

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