Album Review: A Reasonable Amount of Trouble by Jesse Winchester
Great, Based on 5 Critics
American Songwriter - 80 Based on rating 4/5
Jesse WinchesterA Reasonable Amount of Trouble(Appleseed)Rating: 4 out of 5 stars By all accounts, the late Jesse Winchester was similar to the music he recorded; low key, sweet and dryly humorous, a man who exuded relaxed joy, wit, humility and honesty. His 1970 Robbie Robertson produced debut remains archetypal but since he had fled to Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft, he could not tour in the States to support it. That didn’t stop others from recognizing his talents and soon artists as diverse as Jimmy Buffett (who contributes touching liner notes to this release), Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello and even Wilson Pickett, along with dozens more, were recording his tunes.
Jesse Winchester's career was sometimes shadowed by grave themes that didn't often express themselves in his music -- most notably, he fled the United States rather than fight in the Vietnam War, and was an exile in Canada when he did most of his best-known work -- and it seems curiously fitting that his final album, A Reasonable Amount of Trouble, would arrive five months after Winchester's death in April 2014. But mortality and tragedy don't figure into these songs much at all; they were mostly written and recorded after Winchester survived an earlier bout with cancer of the esophagus in 2011, and this music sounds like the work of a man who is grateful for his new opportunities, without having too many false illusions in his late sixties. There's a pleasing warmth and grace to this music, and while Winchester's medical issues added a rougher texture to his voice, the velvet sounds just right for songs like the rootsy "A Little Louisiana," the contemplative "Just So Much," and the romantic "All That We Have Is Now.
It's poignant that the first song on what will be the final studio album from legendary singer/songwriter Jesse Winchester is entitled "All That We Have Is Now." We no longer have him in our midst, given his passing in April this year. A Reasonable Amount of Trouble features nine new Winchester compositions alongside covers of three of his favourite old tunes, and it's a legit release, not one of those posthumous quickies you often see. Produced by Mac McAnally, it features such notable guests as Jim Horn and Jerry Douglas.
Jesse Winchester was raised mostly in Memphis, attended Williams College, jumped to Montreal to dodge the draft during the Vietnam War, then met Robbie Robertson of the Band, who produced his fine debut album. Thus began his career as a musician’s musician, whose songs were covered by everyone from Elvis Costello to Emmylou Harris. Winchester died of cancer in April, but not before making this superb final album.
It’s no mere coincidence that the opening track on the final album from singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester, who died in April from bladder cancer, is a characteristically disarming song called “All That We Have Is Now. ” And it would be a disservice for anyone unfamiliar with Winchester’s exceedingly graceful and erudite body of work to think this was a latter-day awakening to the reality of mortality borne of his health issues in recent years, which also included a bout with esophageal cancer, from which he recovered. This is a modal window.