An Intimate Evening with Jesse Terry
January 24 @ 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm CDT$20
Tickets: $20 (Call 251-367-4599 to reserve)
Photo by Eric Gerard.
In a period of American life considered the most divisive and tribalistic in modern memory, the notion of hopefulness may feel misplaced to some. For Jesse Terry, though, it’s a byproduct of his own life experience. “I think I will always be innately hopeful, because I’ve seen how much life can change,” he says. “And I’ve seen how much people can change, if they open up and allow themselves to do so.” After a turbulent adolescence defined by runaway shelters and reform schools, Terry grew up encountering other people in increasingly desperate situations. When he awoke hooked up to machines in a hospital bed in the aftermath of a substance-fueled binge at 18 years old, Terry says he realized that happiness is a choice, and he vowed to begin making it daily. At a certain point, he says, a vision of what happiness would look like took hold in his mind. “I feel like I’ve been on that path for a long time now,” he says. “There always was a tiny spark in the shadows, even at my lowest points. If you’re working on it, the light gets brighter every day. Now I’m in a place that I love, with a wife that I love, with family in my life that I love. But it took a long while.”
Around that time in his life, Terry’s mother lent him her old acoustic guitar — it was love at first pluck. Songwriting became a codified means for him to discover who he was, and he dropped out of art school to pursue it full-time. Though he had been on a path to become a painter, he says there was something vital in music that was missing in visual art. Music had always been a part of Terry’s life, however. His earliest musical memories were the sounds emanating from his parents’ turntable: the Beatles, Roy Orbison, the Beach Boys, Electric Light Orchestra (sounds that, not coincidentally, largely inform the sonics of Stargazer). It wasn’t until he began writing his own songs that Terry truly began to realize music’s capacity to heal. Though he had turned to the Beatles and James Taylor for healing and guidance through some of the most difficult seasons of his own life, he realized that songwriting gave him that same capacity for connecting with another troubled soul. More powerful still was the realization that his songs might be able to help others heal. “At a certain point I realized that I might have the chance to ease someone else’s pain with my music, which is a much more powerful and humbling thing,” he says. “So I consider myself very lucky if the experiences that I went through gave me some empathy and helped me connect with other human beings at a foundational level – to understand some of that struggle and some of that resilience.”
Stargazer is very much an album representing the arc of that journey. Forged in the crucible of the artist’s earnest engagement with a chaotic, confusing world, the record is wonderfully difficult to classify. Drawing inspiration from a diverse pool of influences — from vintage Jeff Lynne-produced pop to the Roy Orbison of “In Dreams” to The Man Who-era Travis — Stargazer is an album commensurate with its moment, imbued with an unconquerably hopeful perspective. “I will always go back to hope and lean on that, because that’s what has gotten me here in the first place,” Terry says. Produced with multi-instrumentalist collaborator Josh Kaler in Nashville’s sumptuous EastSide Manor Studios, every aspect of the album went through an intentionally rigorous evaluative process. “Josh and I worked in the studio for months, making sure that we were bringing something fresh to every track, some kind of new sound or new harmony line or new string line,” Terry says. “I wanted Stargazer to be arranged and produced like the records I first fell in love with.” A significant part of that production process involved strings and renowned arranger Danny Mitchell. “I’ve worked with great string players in the past, but this is the first album where I’ve had the strings professionally arranged for a quartet,” Terry says. The inherent magic, power, and emotion in Mitchell’s arrangements are palpable throughout the record. “I wrote many of these songs with the strings in mind, knowing that they’d be taking my songs to new places.”
The result is a record representing a clarity of vision and a creative pinnacle that, for Terry, has been a career in the making. The countless hours logged on the road and in the studio, he says, have primed him for this moment. “I’ve loved the slow and steady arc my career has taken, the places around the world it’s taken me and the people it’s put in my path,” he says. “Two years ago, even a year ago, I wasn’t ready to make this album.”
Terry remains anchored to the raw wonder he felt when first picked up his mother’s guitar all those years ago, to the period in his life when an optimist emerged from the black fog of early tribulations.
To learn more about Jesse Terry, visit: http://www.jesseterrymusic.com