BY JOSH RUFFIN
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Release date: October 28
AUGUSTA, GA - So here’s the skinny: Jessie Torrisi is a former New York drummer and present-day Texas-based siren of grit, hunger, loss and the eternal search for the Why and the What. Blessed with a voice that matches Emmylou Harris for sly, lust-tinged smokiness and rivals Neko Case in the gorgeous-as-hell-but-can-chop-firewood-all-day department, Torrisi obviously knows her way around not only every back alley saloon that’s ever been littered with heartbreak and bad decisions, but also a few low-lit jazz haunts. To put this in perspective, Case posed for the cover of her last album on top of a hot rod, brandishing a broadsword as if she were about to invent decapitation. Had Torrisi posed for the same shot, the car would’ve been dustier, and she’d have done it in heels.
Regardless, the actual album art features her jumping on the bed, so you get an idea of the dichotomies we’re dealing with here; there IS a certain wink-and-a-nod vibe to “Bruler Bruler,” but one characterized by a degree of transparency. And it has to be; as poppy, catchy, and lilting as some of these songs may be, a mixture of sideways smiles and melancholy is what lies at the core of the album. She may bemoan a lack of love on “Hungry Like Me,” but turns right around on the cabaret-tinged dive-bar tune “Cannonball” with lines like “I wanna dive into your skin/I wanna dive in like a cannonball.” A wilting flower this woman is not.
Salvation is woven throughout, but only at the periphery. The album’s most peaceful track, “Brighter Side,” sounds like something a country gospel group would have written after being stuck in a cabin on the Northwest coast during rainy season with nothing but a record player and a dusty copy of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue.” Simple to accept and tough to unravel, “Bruler Bruler” should very well speak to everyone, but that’s not because Jessie Torrisi knows who you are—it’s because she knows who she is.