Jesse Winchester | Love Filling Station

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Love Filling Station

by Jesse Winchester

More CD's coming this week! The first new studio CD in a decade from a master of laidback, perceptive, and often romantic country/folk/soul singing and songwriting.
Genre: Folk: Folk Pop
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1. O What a Thrill
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3:19 album only
2. Bless Your Foolish Heart
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3:11 album only
3. Wear Me Out
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2:39 album only
4. Stand By Me
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3:33 album only
5. It's a Shame About Him
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4:10 album only
6. Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding
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4:05 album only
7. I'm Gonna Miss You Girl
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4:27 album only
8. I Turn to My Guitar
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4:03 album only
9. Lonely for a While
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3:41 album only
10. Eulalie
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3:45 album only
11. Far Side Bank of Jordan
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3:22 album only
12. Loose Talk
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2:45 album only
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
About 'LOVE FILLING STATION":
You could stock a crowd-pleasing jukebox with the songs Jesse Winchester has written and recorded in the last four decades – and with the better-known versions of his songs that have become hits and album staples for artists ranging from Joan Baez to Elvis Costello to Jimmy Buffett. Winchester’s skill in capturing vivid small town vignettes, heartfelt love and love-lost situations, and goodtime celebrations has yielded a litany of I-know-that-songs: “Yankee Lady,” “Biloxi,” “Brand New Tennessee Waltz,” “Talk Memphis,” “Rhumba Girl,” “Payday,” “I’m Gonna Miss You, Girl,” “Let’s Make a Baby King” and many more. His 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Composters, Artists and Publishers (ASCAP) is one gauge of the music world’s esteem, and Bob Dylan called Winchester one of the best songwriters of his generation.

"Love Filling Station," Winchester’s first studio CD since 1999’s "Gentleman of Leisure," offers nine characteristically top-flight originals among its dozen songs. It also highlights Jesse as a graceful, soulful vocalist, as memorable a singer as a songwriter. His light southern tenor drawl, warmly wrapped in country/bluegrass/folk arrangements, can gently ascend to the heavens a la Roy Orbison, as in the lovestruck wonderment of “O What a Thrill” (already covered by The Mavericks), dish some sly, wry dirt (“It’s a Shame About Him”) and even capture the sublime hush of Ben E. King’s classic “Stand By Me,” one of the CD’s three covers. The lightly rocking “Wear Me Out,” another original, mixes a mock-plaintive vocal of sexual exhaustion with a funky, gospel-tinged call-and-response as the great bluegrass solo artist and sideman Jerry Douglas threads carnal lap steel guitar licks throughout the song.

Aside from Douglas’s guest shot, some of the core musicians on "Love Filling Station" are the equally estimable Russ Barenberg (guitar, mandolin); Mark Fain (bass) and Andy Leftwich (fiddle) from Ricky Scaggs’ band; Jesse himself (guitar, keyboards, lead and backing vocals); and solo artist Claire Lynch, who summons her inner Dolly Parton on one of the album’s other cover songs, “Loose Talk,” an uptempo country lament about wagging tongues and provincial minds.

The strength, sincerity and humor of Winchester’s songs combine the laidback gentility of his Memphis upbringing with the perspective and longing of his longtime Canadian exile, self-imposed in 1967 upon receipt of his draft notice. The ten years that followed, before then-President Carter declared amnesty in 1977, may have limited his recognition and eliminated touring in the US, but the next 25 years based in Montreal were voluntary and productive, in a leisurely way. Repatriated in Virginia with an American-born wife since 2002, Winchester sounds happy to be home on "Love Filling Station," and we’re glad to have him back.

About JESSE WINCHESTER:
If you listen to many of the songs Jesse Winchester has written in his professional career, now nearing four decades, you’ll hear most of the elements of what’s become known as “Americana” – detailed, empathetic stories of everyday people set to music incorporating folk, country, bluegrass, blues and gospel instrumentation.

How ironic, then, that a musician with such a strong sense of personal and musical roots should make the life changing decision to leave his Memphis home in 1967 and resettle in Canada in defiance of his draft notice, a.k.a. an invitation to fight in Vietnam.

Born on the army base – another irony – in Bossier City, La., where his father was stationed, Jesse was mostly raised in Memphis, where the Winchester name was well-established in local politics and society. There were ten years of piano lessons ahead, playing guitar in high school bands, and attendance at Williams College in Massachusetts, where Jesse made the first dramatic change in his life. During a year of studies overseas, he joined a rock band in Munich, Germany, and toured there before and after his 1966 graduation.

But in the mid-Sixties, graduating from college almost inevitably led to military service, and Jesse soon received his draft notice back in Memphis. Aware of the consequences, he bought a one-way ticket to Montreal and fly north with his guitar and a few hundred dollars.

After a few years of playing piano in Canadian bars and teaching himself to write songs, Jesse met Robbie Robertson, lead guitarist and main writer for The Band, the legendary quintet of former Dylan backing musicians. Robertson produced Jesse’s self-titled debut album, enlisting fellow Band-mate Levon Helm on drums and mandolin and whiz-kid musician Todd Rundgren as engineer. That first album was released with the most low-key packaging possible – no lyrics and a gatefold cover with the same photo of Jesse on all four panels, resembling a 19th Century “Wanted Dead or Alive” poster.

Fortunately, Jesse’s songs spoke for themselves. That first album included reputation-building original compositions like the homesick “Yankee Lady” (covered by Tim Hardin, Brewer & Shipley, and Matthews’ Southern Comfort”), “Biloxi” (Jimmy Buffett, Tom Rush, Ted Hawkins), “Brand New Tennessee Waltz” (The Everly Brothers, Patti Page, Ronnie Hawkins) and the rollicking “Payday” (Elvis Costello, Alex Taylor).

Although his inability to tour the US hampered his career until President Carter declared amnesty for draft defiers in 1977, Winchester remained based in Canada, writing and recording great songs that solidified his critical acclaim and popularity among other artists. Jesse’s “Rhumba Girl” was a pop hit for Nicolette Larson, “Well-a-Wiggy” reached the R&B charts in a version by the Weather Girls, and Michael Martin Murphey had a Top 10 country single with “I’m Gonna Miss You, Girl,” which Jesse finally recorded for his new Love Filling Station CD. Reba McIntyre and Wynonna Judd have been among the most regular outlets for his songs. Jesse even had his own Top 40 hit with “Say What” in 1981.

After releasing seven albums between 1970 and 1981, Jesse took some time off to recharge, living on the royalties from his songs. He broke cover again with 1988’s "Humour Me," which was followed by another long wait for 1999’s "Gentleman of Leisure." In 2002, Jesse and his new wife finally relocated back to the States, in Virginia. While Winchester has maintained an active touring schedule during much of his career, his return to the recording studio to cut "Love Filling Station" after a nine-year absence was inspired by that most romantic of reasons: “My wife kept bugging me.”


Reviews


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John Mitchell

Love Filling Station
Jesse does it again!! Great cd. "Far Side Bank of Jordan" is a wonderfully done gospel song I can't get out of my head. The other ten songs are great, too. Listening to a Jesse Winchester cd is sorta like sex, the worst of it is still wonderful.

Timothy Yap

Winchester Primes the Pump for Great Songs on "Love Filling Station"
Winchester knows full well that it all comes down to a song. If a song has the ability to stir the heart, even when it is scantily clad with just guitar and drums, it is still a brilliant song. And he certainly knows how to works his magic with his latest CD "Love Filling Station" by filling the entire album with such songs backed by a simple, rustic and understated folk-country arrangement making the entire listening experience relaxing and soothing. Yet, for the uninitiated, a word needs to be said about Winchester's background. Known for his prolific handling of his scribal pen, Winchester has written for artists as diverse as Patti Page ("Brand New Tennessee Waltz") to Wynonna Judd ("Just Like New") to Dan seals ("Gentlemen of Leisure") to Reba McEntire ("You Remember Me"). As an artist, Winchester has not been that prodigious; "Love Filling Station" is his first release in the last decade. Such a lack of product is understandable considering that the vocals of Winchester show a touch of grey --this is especially evident in his lack of breadth and the vocal strain when he tries to hit the higher notes with his shrill high tenor.

Nevertheless, what he lacks in the vocal department is more than made up in the writing department. Album opener "O What a Thrill" (a Winchester original first recorded by the Mavericks) takes Winchester on another level of artistry as Winchester shows that he too can groove along on a Roy Orbison-influenced rockabilly. While burgeoning love may be the theme of "O What a Thrill," the journey of love into a couple's autumnal years is the subject of the gentle acoustic guitar-driven "Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding." Here Winchester's sombre and tender delivery perfectly captured the romantic tenor of this superior ballad. Equally endearing is Winchester's touching treatment to of a trifecta of melancholic entries that deal with loss, "I'm Gonna Miss You Girl," "I Turn to My Guitar" and "Lonely for a While."

Despite being one of country music's primer tunesmith, Winchester is not given to self-indulgence. He does pay homage to other songwriters by tackling three covers. Never one to be accused of being prissy, B. B. King's "Stand By Me" is given a new sheen when Winchester gives it a country-like reading backed by a bevy of strings. While on Carl Smith's uptempo "Loose Talk," Winchester shares his woes with bluegrass diva Claire Lynch on about the horrendous effects of wagging tongues and provincial minds on a marriage. Lyrically, Winchester takes a better turn on the hopeful southern Gospel classic "Far Side of Jordan" where the militant tone and Winchester's spirited performance are the song's highlight.

After all these years and after writing thousands of songs, Winchester still shows that he still has it in him to produce songs of the highest quality. Carefully crafted narratives, well developed plots and life related themes are what make Winchester's songs so sublime. And the songs on this CD are testimonial of that. On "Love Filling Station," Winchester still primes the pump for the best a song can ask for.

Peters at CD Baby


A brief history of Jesse Winchester: rather than fight in Vietnam, he moved to Canada and befriended some amazing musicians. His 1970 debut album was produced by Robbie Robertson, engineered by Todd Rundgren, and featured Levon Helm. His songs have been covered by Tim Hardin, Jimmy Buffett, Tom Rush, The Everly Brothers, Reba McEntire, and Elvis Costello. If that doesn't pique your interest, just listen to a few songs on "Love Filling Station." With styles ranging from the old-timey country of "It's a Shame About Him," to the soft a/c pop of "I Turn to My Guitar," to the bluegrass-infused "Far Side Bank of Jordan," to the 50's style "Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding," Winchester is clearly a masterful songwriter with no inhibitions about exploring whatever genre fits the lyrics of a given song. The real highlight of the album, however, is his voice - a soft southern tenor with wonderful nuance and life that can only come with age. Like a fine wine, Winchester's voice has acquired a new life through the years, becoming more soulful and supple. With special guests Jerry Douglas and Claire Lynch, "Love Filling Station" is a wonderfully engaging album from beginning to end.