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Reviewed by Amanda Mills

Jeshel: Self-titled

Reviewed by Amanda Mills

Jeshel: Self-titled

Wellington-based American Jeshel Forrester has had an intriguing career in and out of the music industry, recording country albums in Australia in the mid 1980s, both as a solo artist and as part of award-winning Rank Strangers. After a lengthy break this new self-titled double album is a combination of original tracks and covers, recorded over 2015/’16 at Te Ahumairangi Studio. Sparsely arranged, with emphasis on finger-picked guitar and vocals, the music is mostly in a folk or country vein, with Forrester (vocally) channelling at various points Johnny Cash or Neil Young. He shows an obvious affection for his material, but across 25 tracks some of the songs sound the same, with little breaking up the steady acoustic folk/country flow. Live-recorded tracks Koori Man and Kamara shine with Ian Tritt’s added dobro and mandolin respectively. Two other songs stand out for me; the urgent Hoka Hay, which tells the story of Crazy Horse, and Bob Dylan’s Girl Of The North Country (one of several covers including two from Gillian Welch), where Dylan’s songwriting style and more complex chord changes provide a different energy than Forrester’s straightforward structures. Despite being packed with well-written and performed songs there isn’t enough to make ‘Jeshel’ stand out from the myriad of other albums in this style, regardless of his evident talents.

Read his recent article on songwriting here.