Since Gentleman Jesse’s first album came out in the summer of 2008, he’s had plenty of excuses to put the “Gentleman” part of his act to bed. In fact, the Mr. Nice Guy routine landed him in bed for a month after being mugged and beaten with a table leg while he was trying to help two strangers change a tire. When the economy tanked, violent crime in Atlanta exploded, making the city a dreary place to live for a while. In addition, several tragedies hit the Atlanta music scene and the Douchemaster Records family close to home. It was a bad time and Jesse took it very personally. He was close to throwing in the towel and retiring to a dark room with cheap beer and YouTube videos. To cope with the reality of living in a place that was going straight to hell, Jesse went down to the basement of his house and wrote twenty songs that would become Leaving Atlanta. What could have easily become a bummer record ended up being nothing short of inspiring. The album is bookended by “Eat Me Alive,” an anthem of perseverance that was for Jesse a demon-exercising tool, and another mover titled “We Got to Get Out of Here,” which is less about getting out of an actual location and more about getting out of a state of mind. Stylistically, Jesse never strays from his bread and butter: short, hook-driven and delicately patterned rock ’n’ roll songs. One could compare him to Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello or Paul Collins ’til the cows come home, but at this point Gentleman Jesse sounds like Gentleman Jesse. Leaving Atlanta is Jesse hitting his personal and musical stride.
LP of the Month: Gentleman Jesse “Leaving Atlanta”
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