One Track Mind: Jesse Winchester, “All That We Have Is Now” (2014)

You might have expected an album completed just before Jesse Winchester’s sad passing to have a dark morbidity surrounding it, some sense of impending doom. You might have hoped that the deeply underrated singer-songwriter found some light in that darkness, some way to make peace with his fate.

Instead, as the jaunty “All That We Have Is Now” shows, Winchester’s forthcoming posthumous release A Reasonable Amount of Trouble finds him celebrating his life, this world and every little pleasure. Due on September 16, 2014 via Appleseed Recordings, the new project was largely written in the light-filled period following Winchester’s victory in a battle with esophageal cancer — and, at least within this context, it shows.

Winchester set about recording a group of new songs like “All That We Have Is Now,” along with fun-filled covers from mid-century bands like the Clovers (“Devil or Angel”) and the Cascades (“Rhythm of the Rain”), before news of his cancer’s return arrived. This time, it had spread to his bladder. Winchester died just two months later at 69. But not before leaving this ringing reminder of his ability to inspire, in good times and those decidedly worse.

Winchester, whose songs had been covered by the likes of Lyle Lovett, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Wilson Pickett and Waylon Jennings, collaborated with Mac McAnally on A Reasonable Amount of Trouble. That’s the same producer who helmed the well-received 2012 Winchester tribute album Quiet About It, which found Lucinda Williams, Rosanne Cash and others interpreting Winchester’s work.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.