CD Review of Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul by Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter

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Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul
starstarstarno starno star Label: Barsuk
Released: 2007
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Is it just me or is there something slightly wrong and awkward with a woman being compared to Neil Young? Listen, I’m not being sexist and I’m not against animals. Did you hear that, PETA? What I did with that donkey was consensual (donkey, if you’re reading this, call me). I don’t know. It seems out of place but holy shit, once you listen for 30 seconds, it totally makes sense. Maybe there’s a bit of Marianne Faithfull in there as well? Wow. There is a well of influences to cull from: Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin. Oh, influences be damned! Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter supply melodies on par with each of the aforementioned, potential sound-a-likes. This record touches a nerve and there is a haunting beauty to the production of this release that whisks through the air when this record is played loud. Like all good records, this record should be played loud.

Maybe that nerve I spoke of earlier is attached to the Whiskeytown DNA that mutated itself into my body. Oh, come on. Cut a dude a break. I failed the hell out of biology. Actually, no I didn’t…I just don’t remember any of it. Okay, pardon the hyperbole. I’m simply driving at the fact that Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter was formed by members of the now defunct Whiskeytown. If you’ve never experienced Whiskeytown, you really should. Ryan Adams was one of the frontmen prior to going solo. It is mighty powerful stuff. Not unlike the powerful moments on Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul.

Okay, I kinda lost focus there for a moment. Jesse Sykes could very well be compared to Neil Young. She’s a damn sight prettier, of course. God love him, Neil is beginning to look like a chewed-up sock puppet. There are strong hints of Harvest Moon-type vibes on this, her/their fourth release (her second for Barsuk). I really don’t need to go through the whole Barsuk drill again, do I? Nah. Those of you that have been keeping score at home know full well my love for this label. It’s a love that is indescribable, and even if I could describe it, you’ve previously heard meanderings about it and are most certainly ready to puke by now anyway. So if you take a moment to check out this record, definitely check out “The Air Is Thin,” It’s definitely the standout track on the record.

~Josh Preston