20 Oct 2021

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The Jesse Wilde Band - Album Review: Headin' South

12 Oct 2021 // A review by Roger Bowie

With a name like Jesse Wilde you’d be sure he must be an outlaw. Especially when he looks a lot like Duane Allman in his cover photo. All that’s missing is the “Wanted” sign. And there’s every possibility he’s gonna end up a wanted man. Because the problem with Jesse Wilde and his new album is that he sounds like just about everyone I like, sometimes too much so. But it’s Americana, and that’s a big broad church, and as long as you can taste the dirt, anybody’s dirt, then that’s ok. By me anyway. And, I reckon, by you too. Wanted.

Jesse grew up on rock. Beatles, Stones, Mac, the usual suspects, but also a big chunk of southern boogie rock. And all of those influences appear on his new album, entitled, not surprisingly, Headin’ South. And throw in Prine and Mellencamp, and Earle and Seger.

You might know Jesse Wilde from his various other activities and projects, namely the Wilde Storey Trio with Dylan Storey (plays guitar on this album) and Earl Robertson, or an earlier band like Fiesta Drive. Or in his Studio 38. Or that guy on stage who reminds you of the outlaw in a Wanted poster.

Jesse plays a lot of covers in his live shows, but on Headin’ South he writes his own stuff, with collaborators, mainly the other guitarist in his band, Ed Taylor. And the caveat is of course that these songs are unashamedly (I assume) derivative. Which is why there’s an easy and immediate familiarity to his music, along with the pleasant surprise that such authentic Americana is being produced here in Auckland under our dirty noses.

Southern Belle opens, a stomping southern rock boogie with whiskey vocals and delightful cameos from Caitlin Smith and Stephanie Crawford. And then we fall in line with a series of country rock foot tappers and ballads which evoke all aspects of the old American west: Jimmy the cowboy, the cocaine eyed croak of the Belle of the Ball, pure Mellencamp; the laid-back fireside Ballad of the Working Man; the bluesy- Earle ode to Billy the Kid (Rambling Willie); the Second Look failed love song, pure Prine, a host of other little magic gems. Sweet vocals from Bianca Pedrotti in the call and response The Shadow, before we resume as we start, with the (almost) title track, Honey (Headin' South) rockin’ us out with hints of Mick and Keef.

Appropriate ending, a little honey of an album which will make you want more…..

The Jesse Wilde Band: Jesse himself on guitar and vocals, Ed Taylor and Dylan Storey on guitars, Paul Rogers on drums and bass, Andrew Ishee on keys, Nick Jones and Sarah Spence on strings, Mike Booth on trumpet. Vocals and Backing Vocals from Carole Chevin, and, as mentioned, Bianca Pedrotti, Caitlin Smith and Stephanie Crawford

The Jesse Wilde Band, Headin' South: hear the album now on all the usual streaming services, except Spotify, where you can get a song a week until you can’t.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About The Jesse Wilde Band

Jesse was raised in New Zealand on the music of the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, and Fleetwood Mac. He went on to develop his own musical interests including the sounds of popular Rock and Southern Rock artists such as Springsteen, Mellencamp, and Dylan and the vibrant up tempo alternative southern rock beat of Steve Earle & the Dukes. The result is the unique Southern Country Rock Americana flavour of Jesse Wilde.

Jesse's first major band was the well known Acoustic Attitude which played a very successful mix of popular covers and original songs. Jesse has toured extensively overseas including the UK, Europe and North America. During a ‘Rock Pilgrimage’ of his musical influences, he met and played with John 'Cougar' Mellencamp, Bob Seger and Steve Earle. Jesse spent several months writing and performing in the US. He co-wrote the song Ghost Town Road with Rick Beresford who has a gold record for a song he wrote for George Jones titled If Drinking Doesn’t Kill Me Her Memory Will.

Jesse Wilde based himself back in Auckland and formed the band Fiesta Drive which enjoyed much success in New Zealand, playing a large number of successful gigs all over the country. Jesse’s current band The Jesse Wilde Band and The Wilde Storey trio have played many successful gigs. Off stage, Jesse has built his own professional ‘state of the art’ Recording Studio and Venue (Studio 38) where he records and mixes some of his own albums as well as those of many other popular New Zealand and international artists.

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