The opening moments of “Death & All His Friends,” the first track on Jesse Denaro’s latest EP, seem pretty standard for a folkster. Gently finger-picked guitar and a hushed voice. Then the beat kicks in. What? Where did this come from? Just when Denaro has lulled you into a state of security, he jars you awake. Turns out this Floridian is full of surprises. All My Friends Are Dead is a lush EP, accomplishing a surprising amount in just six songs. Switching between acoustic and electric guitars, a warm voice and just a sprinkling of electronic sounds, Denaro sounds like a concoction of Greg Laswell, Andrew Belle, and City and Colour. With those three names, I dare say ‘baby we got a stew going!” A folk stew. And a mighty tasty one at that. Unlike those names, though, Jesse Denaro knows how to let it loose. On two of my favorite tracks from the EP, “Fear” and “All My Friends Are Dead (To Be The One),” intensity slowly builds, hushed at first, but burning and burning until Denaro explodes, punctuated by heavy bass kicks. It’s simple and clean, and really powerful. Denaro shows his songwriting chops on “Misfortunate One,” possibly my favorite track on the EP, working through dark subject matter with deft hands. The song is a complete heart breaker.
Though impressive in its own right, I really think All My Friends Are Dead gives just a glimpse into Jesse Denaro’s potential. It’s clear that he has a knack for creating captivating and varied songs, and I would love to see what he could do over the span of a full-length record. He’s an artist that I want to see experiment, with a feel about him that no matter what he might try, he’ll pull it off.
So what are you waiting for? Go get familiar!
Recommended Songs: “Death & All His Friends,” “Fear,” “Misfortunate One,” “All My Friends Are Dead (To Be The One)”