The Lonely Pines
Songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist Jesse Brewster has been bringing his blend of rock, Americana and folk to across the US for the last 15 years. Call it West Coast Americana, formed by a nomadic childhood as the son of hippie parents, first in the mountains of Northern California, then the Big Island of Hawaii, and then the Bay Area where he currently resides. Brewster attended 10 different schools by the time he as 12 years old – so he has long mastered making adjustments. He’s seen plenty and while he began writing according to the cardinal rule of songwriting – “write what you know,” he has sharpened that craft to tell others’ stories too on The Lonely Pines, his fifth album.
One can immediately sense that Brewster has harnessed the best from classic rockers and folksingers he heard growing up, producing a flowing folk-rock immediately infectious sound from the opening track, “Let’s Run Away.” The mid-tempo “Kicking and Screaming” speaks to wanderlust as well, with swelling choruses and soaring guitar lines, it’s built for your car radio. The dancehall ballad, the piano-driven “Bitter Pill” changes it up, colored with a distinctly Western veneer. “Southern” slows it down even further into a haunting, bluesy mode, imbued by his harmonica as he sings about the loss of his brother (more on that later). “Close to Home’ addresses the isolation of the pandemic days, where he chooses to count his blessings instead in his roots rocker, jangling guitar riff filled standout track. The spacious, acoustically strummed “Woman in My Mind” shows his warmth while “So Much Good Right Here’ is another breezy tune that speaks to his optimistic outlook.
Those tracks were all recorded with a full band prior to the onset of the pandemic which forced him to finish the last three in his home studio, wherein he played all the instruments. “No One to Blame” and “Follow It Down” are contemplative, examples of how he adeptly blends roots rockers with evocative folk and country strains and constructs singable hooks in seemingly every chorus. He closes in stunning fashion with the Celtic imbued folk of “Amber Kinney.”
Brewster’s muse is guided in a large part by the loss of his brother, Jim, who passed away from Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) while both were in their twenties. This inspired Jesse, already an accomplished guitarist, to write his first lyrics. Later, while battling the same disease, Jesse received a life-saving kidney transplant form his wife. So, his optimism and grateful demeanor is more than genuine in his songs, some of which have reached notoriety. “My Great Escape” was utilized by CNN when covered the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election. San Francisco’s iconic radio station KFOG often plays his songs. While he’s had success as a solo artist, his restless, creative spirit has him exploring and R&B-influenced record, a hard rock trio, and a rock opera being developed for Broadway. He’s an educator, a producer, and certainly a gifted songwriter as you hear on this well-crafted album.
- Jim Hynes