home listen reviews a - z
Jesse DeNatale

     SHANGRI-LA WEST • Jesse DeNatale

Hang on now, check this Cali cat out. He's one of those songwriting creatures that steps out of the swamp fully formed. With all the tools, that misunderstood look and the smoky voice, ten great songs, and a sound, an atmosphere. You start out skeptical and end up saying, "Hmm...it's pretty great, I think."

The opener, "Twilight King," is so Astral Weeks, but convincingly so, that I say out loud, man if you're gonna sound that much like early Van, which we regard as sacred territory, you'd better have some spit on the ball. Don't give us that Van-lite stuff that Counting Crows took to the bank, don't want to hear that. But that's not what DeNatale's selling--he's bringing the goods, he's holding. Just the outrageous sounding background vocals on "Twilight King" and their spot in the mix assured me I was in for a beautiful ride.

The music was recorded in the cozy city studio of J. Sciarra, who played expert drums and percussion and sang backgrounds. Greg Reeves pulsed bass, and Paul Rustigian laid down organ, and piano on "Angel Baby." Kurt Stevenson dressed the tracks tastefully with guitars and dobro, mandolin and violin, and he sang. It's a very sharp and cohesive combo, like folded hands.

Jesse put out Shangri-La West out himself a couple of years back, and now it's seeing some national exposure on a San Francisco label called Jackpine Social Club, love it. He got a little bump in No Depression magazine, and he's headed out to do some East Coast dates in support of his March 11th national release.

We're on board, we think Shangri-La West is just the first from a great artist. It's not just us, Tom Waits and Ramblin' Jack are talking good about him, just take a look at the artist's website. We wanna see him live, and you oughta keep an eye out for him, too. Please check Jesse out on the Listen page and buy it from Jackpine Social Club. • FG

view cover      listen to clips      puremusic home