By admin • Oct 1st, 2009 • Category: By Greg Heaney, Featured Review 2, Reviews
Love, both lost and found, is a powerful songwriting force. Music is full of men and women, longing and crushed, consumed by the fire of love. With this in mind, Jessie Torrisi’s debut album brûler brûler, French for “burn burn,” is an aptly named collection of torch songs with a Texas flair.
A singer in the Cat Power/She & Him tradition, Torrisi’s country-influenced vocals bring heat to her songs. She’s able to evoke a feeling of hopeful longing, like someone still holding out hope that their lost lover is going to come walking through the door any minute now. Torrisi isn’t just a one-trick pony of quiet desperation. On “Breeze In Carolina” she’s able to effortlessly shift from a confident drawl to a breezy frailty, taking the listener with her on an emotional journey. The best moments on the album come when Torrisi’s voice is able to take center stage, like on “Storm Clouds,” where she sings two-part harmony over minimal accompaniment, or “The Brighter Side,” a sparse track with a simple bed of piano and occasional slide guitar.
Where brûler brûler falls flat is Torrisi’s accompaniment. While Cat Power and M. Ward (the musical Him in She & Him) have pushed their music towards minimalism and sunshine pop, Torrisi’s music isn’t nearly as engaging. Her voice is just too throaty, too smoky and dark, for such glossy production. The albums sparkly production ends up coming off more coffeehouse adult contemporary than alt-country torch ballad.
With this album, Jessie Torrisi has shown that she has what it takes to be a great singer. But, one instrument doesn’t make an orchestra. brûler brûler is a promising beginning for Torrisi. Hopefully the future will see her getting more adventurous with the music, pushing the boundaries to find a sound that’s more wholly engaging and exciting and less safe. – GREGORY HEANEY