CD Review: Jessie Torrisi – bruler, bruler
Recently I received a disc brujer, brujer by Jessie Torrisi, who was touted as someone who played in several NYC bands (Unisex Salon, Laptop, Les Fleurs Tragiques) that I wasn’t familiar with – so I didn’t have any expectations as to what this album would be like. Well, actually, I wasn’t expecting much for this “mystery disc”, but I am happy to report that Torrisi has fashioned a terrific little solo debut (“little” in the sense that it’s a concise 8 song disc that runs just over 30 minutes).
Torrisi is something of an alt. folk-rock chanteuse, for lack of a better term. A great place to start is with the marvelous leadoff track, “Hungry Like Me.” Torrisi’s captivating search for someone compatible is done with a deftly mix of twangy elements (pedal steel) and plucky keyboards (my copy of disc didn’t come with credit list so I’m fishing a little for specific instrumentation) that creates a tune that instantly suggests something special.
She continued to capture my interest with the second track, “X In Texas.” This song, set in her adopted home-state finds her essaying a busted relationship – one where she wants to “just unbuckle me from you.” It’s another song that boasts a strong, although subtle arrangement, as it well utilizes some subdued horns along with a slide-y guitar line.
Love is a common theme throughout this disc, and Torrisi goes back on the offensive with “Cannonball.” A jaunty, near-jazzy number, it showcases the beguiling way Torrisi sashays around a song. Near the song’s end, she chooses to sing the work “explode” quite softly, making it all the more effective. “Runaway Train” is another standout track, both with its powerful, percussive arrangement and Torrisi’s emotive singing, which resembles an arty roadhouse version of Chrissie Hynde.
She exudes a playful bittersweet quality in the troubled relationship tune “Stormy Clouds,” which also displays her knack for phrase-turning. She’s particularly adept at using vivid natural imagery – in this song, there’s a radiant line: “everything you love bursts into flames” – that reflects her dealings with relationships and love. Moreover, song titles like “Runaway Train” and “Cannonball” reveal a certain physicality to her songwriting, which also works well with her song’s looks at love.
After the sultry soulful “So Many Miles,” the disc wraps up with her most emotionally direct tune, the spare, piano-based “The Brighter Side.” This survivor’s tale is a stirring, and ultimately uplifting, number suggests a more laidback Michelle Shocked (in her gospel mood).
In “Runaway Train,” Torrisi sings: “what’s it going to take to get your attention?” With this thoroughly impressive debut, she certainly has created an attention-grabber. It’s always a particular pleasure when a “mystery disc” turns out to be surprising delights, and bruler, bruler is one of those surprisingly delightful discs.