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Love Filling Station

by: Jesse Winchester

Album Artwork

Jesse Winchester's songs have been recorded by songwriting legends like Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Jimmy Buffett, Ralph Stanley, Delbert McClinton, and the Everly Brothers too name a few.  Bob Dylan ranks him as one of his favorite songwriters.  It speaks highly that songwriting greats choose to cover his songs.

However, Winchester's solo career never matched the success of his songwriting due to a now legendary story.  Born into an upper class Memphis family, Winchester graduated college at the height of the Vietnam War.  He chose to move to Canada in order to evade the draft.

Soon after, Winchester came into the orbit of Bob Dylan and the Band, both deep into their Woodstock phase.  Robbie Robertson produced and the Band played on Winchester's self-titled debut record.  This record stands as an essential coda to the Band's epic self-titled album that explored the sounds and mythology of the South as well as any recording ever has.  

Unfortunately, Winchester's legal status would not allow him to tour the US for almost a decade, killing any chance of a significant solo career.

Nearly 40 years later, with a handful of wonderful albums in between, Winchester has released Love Filling Station, his tenth studio album.  This simple gem may stand as one of his best because it completely embodies and reflects Winchester as a man and as an artist.

There has always been a deep sense of fragility to Winchester's artistry.  He is the consummate "Southern Gentleman" as troubadour.  From the first notes of Love Filling Station, one can see images of languid afternoons where spanish moss meets sandy beaches touched by the shadows of southern mansions off in the distance.

The album kicks off with O What A Thrill, an Orbison-like song that was a country hit for the Mavericks and ends with a duet with Claire Lynch, the classic county song Loose Talk.  In between, Winchester brings elements of gospel (Wear Me Out, Far Side Bank of Jordan), romantic balladry (Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding, I Turn To My Guitar, Lonely For A While), humorous small town stories (It's A Shame About Him), and even a soul standard (Stand By Me) thrown in for good measure.  

Within all of these stirring additions to his catalog of songs, I'm Gonna Miss You Girl stands as one of Winchester's greatest songs and performances.  This reflective ode to the end of a summer romance sounds like early Brian Wilson with the setting moved from southern California beaches to the deep south.  There is an aching sense of innocent heartbreak in this song -  a kind of element so rarely captured.  One can imagine young lovers swaying together holding on to each other and their future, lasting memories of love that will forever linger in their hearts.

With a sense of humor, grace, romance, sadness, and faith, Winchester has made a record that capture Coastal Swampland, from Nags Head to New Orleans and all points in between.

- Jim Markel

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