Jesse Younan - Media

Palimpsest CD Review
By Jonathon Hulme

The “sensitive-guy-with a guitar” style of music is big business these days with the likes of Jack Johnson and Pete Murray selling lots of records and selling out venues. Where the aforementioned artists have cornered a niche that is pretty but bland, should their popularity evoke any exposure of Sydney local Jesse Younan we should all be thankful. While mining familiar themes of love and loss, his music evokes a timeless quality and depth. The music on Palimpsest simply sounds like songs people will be discovering and falling in love with for years to come.

The first track “Forever” sets the tone for the entire album with mournful vocals over a loping guitar line that grabs you the more you listen to it. Younan’s ability to fingerpick a rhythm while simultaneously adding lead flourishes shows virtuosity without being fussy or detracting from the songs themselves. While Younan’s sound is unique, it is reminiscent of Nick Drake, the greatest musician to be never heard. Both share a minimal sound focussed around guitar, voice and the unbridled romanticism of love both found and lost. While some of the songs could benefit from further instrumentation, the skeletal production suits the sentiment of the songs.

Lyrically, Younan is obviously a man who has seen heartbreak but enjoyed the joys of love such as the lazy day in bed with a lover recounted in “Bea.” However, the majority of the music has a melancholy undertone befitting his the ragged edge to his voice. Even more ‘up’ songs such as “Black Dog” with its jaunty pace betrays loss with line such as “Shoulda known better now/ you done me wrong.”

Younan has a reputation for being a charismatic and passionate live performer and plays regularly around Sydney. This is amply captured in the performances on Palimpsest and hopefully the word will spread so more people hear Younan’s unique and beautiful voice. Somewhere in another world where people like Nick Drake, Elliott Smith and M Ward happily reside, Jesse Younan probably has an acre of land and a big back porch where he sings his soulful songs. Palimpsest highlights a rightful heir to their rich musical heritage.