Review: ‘The Lonely Pines’ jangle for Jesse Brewster

Jesse Brewster’s fifth solo album is a folky blend of country and rock.
Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage

Jesse Brewster’s new album, “The Lonely Pines,” jangles right out of the box with a tune reminiscent of the Marshall Tucker Band and the Gin Blossoms.

That’s the hook. What follows is a catchy and clever collection of tunes that make up the Bay Area’s artist’s fifth solo album.

Brewster has a knack for writing good melodies, and many here clop along with a bit of a twang. Like one of the songs is titled, there is “So Much Good Right Here.” It’s easy to imagine any of the 10 originals being aired on radio, with aforementioned opener “Let’s Run Away” and a Covid-era themed “Close to Home” the most likely to do so.

Brewster says his rock ‘n’ roll friends think he’s country, and his country friends call his music rock. Pretty apt summation from one who pens songs with a touch of humility and a penchant for wittiness.

For example, amble through those swinging doors and listen to lonesome piano backing the succinct, sad, yet funny verse of “Bitter Pill.”

“Maybe it bothers me less, you don’t want me no more;
‘Cause deep down I know it’s best for us both.
Oh, but seeing you with him, I can’t help but feeling grim;
Swallowing the bitter pill again.”

“A partner in crime, oh once upon a time — Just another face I pass on the street.
Now I’m taking the high road, but my altitude keeps dropping,
And I’m staring back up at you again; I hit the brakes but there’s no stopping,
Seems I end up here so often, swallowing that bitter pill again.

Brewster has a lot to say with his active mind during a time when a pandemic has put live shows on hold. Much of the album was put together in his home studio. His other projects include an Eagles tribute band, Illeagles, and an original metal rock group, 3 Star General, which had a debut album in 2017. He’s also written 14 songs for a rock opera, “7 Doors,” with a partner in New York that explores the stages of grief. He went from being a player to a songwriter after the death of his brother.

In the meanwhile, Brewster stays active giving guitar, bass and ukulele lessons on Zoom and working on yet another album.

“Until we find out what the new normal is for playing shows and we all get back to it, I appreciate having a break because I’ve been playing gigs and touring and busy all the time for the last 15-20 years,” he said. “So to have a a nice long break from it has had me appreciate it even more but it’s given me an opportunity to continue all my creative projects and push those forward way more than they would have.”

-Tim Parsons

  • ‘The Lonely Pines’
  • Release: March 5, 2021
  • Favorite tracks: ‘Bitter Pill,’ ‘Let’s Run Away’
Just before the pandemic stopped live music, Brewster and the Illeagles played at show at the Crystal Bay Casino.
Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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