If there’s one word to define Jesse Peters on his new record, Face Time, it’s “swagger.” Sure, there are other adjectives to employ as well and they’ll all be flung around here in short order, but the most captivating aspect of this young cat’s artistry right out of the box is that he can swing – and he knows it.
Peters is no stranger to the Canadian music scene. He was receiving accolades from Diana Krall and my favourite new trumpeter, Ingrid Jensen, while still in high school. And, by the ripe old age of 21, he and his Peters Drury Trio had released a pair of critically-acclaimed recordings. Peters’ band Paramedic, a funksoul and hip-hop act worth getting excited about, also made waves.
Face Time is Peters’ smart, soulful, sassy homage to soul, R&B and jazz. It packs original tunes alongside some standards and more than a few surprises to deliver a listening experience that’s lovingly familiar and yet wholly unique.
“That Ain’t Today” opens the album with classic piano sleekness. It’s a brief caress of what’s to come and showcases some really nice playing from Peters and the trio.
“Rockin’ Daddy” is where business really picks up. After a splash intro, the piece gets hammering with saxophonist Dave Babcock’s thick grooves. Peters’ swagger is in full effect as he calls out his solo and pops through a blistering routine that’s backed by tight rhythm and Babcock’s own kick at the can. A deep jam session follows and Peters’ mines a little touch of Ray Charles when it cuts back in vocally.
The hard swing and confidence of “Rockin’ Daddy” pops up all over Face Time. The title track slinks around with charming lyrics about dropping the discourteous tech conventions of our time to have a genuine moment. “Forget your virtual friends,” Peters intones, “they’re the last thing you need.” The wordplay is sly and fun.
Covers abound on Face Time, with “Change the World,” “Working Day and Night” and “Fragile” among the pieces Peters puts his own determined spin on.
Through each and every moment, whether subtle or strong, Peters maintains a sense of confidence and swagger that refuses to sway. Where other artists may have overplayed their proverbial hands, he lets it slide as an organic extension of these brilliant songs. The style and flair of this young cat, coupled with a polished songwriting sense, ensures that we’ll be hearing an awful lot about Jesse Peters if there’s any justice in the world.
This was originally published as I Hear Sparks: Jesse Peters – Face Time at Blogcritics.org