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Jesse Winchester

A Reasonable Amount of Trouble – 2014 (Appleseed)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Jesse Winchester

This posthumous release from Jesse Winchester, who passed away in April 2014 shortly before his 70th birthday, finds the singer/songwriter in fine voice. In several of the original compositions, Winchester ponders mortality. The bouncy pop opener "All That We Have is Now" ("So let's just play together/In whatever weather/Sunshine in the park/We'll tell ghost stories when it's dark") and the twangy "A Little Louisiana" ("Well who knows what lies around the bend?/It could be good but then again/It could be empty, cold, and bare/Like I say you better be prepared") stress the importance of living life to its fullest.

The ballad "Every Day I Get the Blues" acknowledges that sorrow will inevitably return ("I know the clouds are gone/But they'll be back again"), while in the moving closing track "Just So Much," Winchester directly contemplates the afterlife ("Is there perfection?/Will there be pain?/Will I see Momma and Dad again?").

Some of the stronger compositions are the moody "Neither Here Nor There" in which Winchester reflects on past mistakes ("I poured myself a drop of Hell/And put my feet up for a spell"), and the haunting "Ghosts," which tells of bad memories that linger ("They moan and they cry/Oh but I wish these ghosts would die"). Other highlights are the bluesy rockers "She Makes It Easy Now" and "Never Forget to Boogie, and effective covers of the pop hits "Rhythm of the Rain," "Whispering Bells" and "Devil or Angel."

Produced by Mac McAnally (lead guitar), the instrumentation is stellar throughout, most notably with Roscoe Beck (bass), Jerry Douglas (lap steel), Stuart Duncan (fiddle) and Jim Horn (sax). With brilliant compositions and strong performances, this swan song nicely augments Jesse Winchester's impressive body of work.