CD review: Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter – Marble Son
Marble Son, the new release from Seattle-based chanteuse Jesse Sykes and her band the Sweet Hereafter, is a swirling trip back to the heady days of Haight Ashbury psychedelia and 60’s folk pop harmony delivered over simmering guitars and rolling bass and drums, bathed in waves of glorious reverb and echo. This album isn’t simply “retro,” it is revisionist in its dedication to elevate the sonic sensibility of the 1960’s and early 70’s to high art. Imagine Marianne Faithful singing Brian Wilson songs with members of Pink Floyd and the Dead and you’re almost there. Sykes offers dark melancholy tales of life and love with her dusky alto painting a western gothic: something akin to Georgia O’Keefe with a guitar. Phil Wandscher displays his distorted guitar mastery as he channels Allman and Garcia and is joined by Bill Herzog (bass) and Eric Eagle (drums) in wearing their influences on their sleeves. It is difficult to pinpoint which song is a standout among the wonderfully recorded pieces as they seem to mesh together as one concerto, inseparable and continuous. It begins with “Hushed By Devotion,” as the epic eight minute overture, and moves to the dramatic title track and the thick harmony of “Come To Mary.” The haunting “Be it Me, Or Be it None” follows, and the Whipping Post styled romp “Pleasuring The Divine,” leads to a climax with “Your Own Kind.” The album is culminated with the perfect dénouement “Wooden Roses,” thus forming a seamless masterwork.
Marble Son is no doubt an album that will make many a best of list for 2011, with its lush and mysterious textures leaving many with much to ponder for years to come.
Rick J Bowen
Originally Appeared in Innocent Words-Sept 2011