A lot of heavy thinking happens while commuting on the New York City subway system. Train rides are frequently bogged down by train traffic, sick passengers, and police activity. These frustrating interruptions are always preceded by the following announcement: “We are being held momentarily by the train dispatcher.” For many commuters, this is the time to have a meltdown or a revelation.
For soulful singer-songwriter Jesse Correll, hearing this famous/infamous quote on one train ride led to an epiphany that helped Jesse redirect his destiny and return to music after many wilderness years. Appropriately, he calls his first album in 15 years, Held Momentarily.
Jesse Correll’s music has garnered favorable comparisons to Amos Lee, Maxwell, Ray LaMontagne, and John Mayer. Jesse began his career as something of a modern R&B wunderkind. He released his debut album while just a senior in high school, and upon graduating from the prestigious Berklee College Of Music, released his sophomore album. Both releases brim with silken R&B grooves, jazzy overtones, and sensual songwriting. Upon graduation, Jesse moved to New York with the intention of pursuing music as a career, but he lost his way in a tangle of domestic responsibilities.
“I woke up one morning and didn’t recognize myself. I was married, part of the 9 to 5 workforce, and I had all but abandoned my musical passions,” he reveals. A series of events including the disintegration of his marriage, the loss of his beloved two grandmothers, being presented with an irresistible severance package, and a new healthy love relationship that would reawaken his soul precipitated major life changes.
“I remember being on a train after these events and hearing that message ‘This train is being held momentarily by the train dispatcher,’” he says. “There was a message that hit me; made me realize life is transient, we’re all being held here momentarily.”
The genesis of Held Momentarily began on Valentine’s Day when Jesse’s new fiancé asked Jesse to write her a song. The amorous request became Held Momentarily’s sweetly bucolic, “Vulnerary Love.” From there, the songs flowed slowly and consistently. Soon, Jesse was gigging at New York City’s finest singer-songwriter venues, including Rockwood Music Hall, Caffe Vivaldi, and Googie’s Lounge.
After testing the material in a live setting, Jesse set about recording an album. As a multi-instrumentalist with a distinct vision, he opted to self-produce and play all the instruments on the lush album himself except bass. The result is a smoldering confessional album that is both disquieting and comforting, and traverses genres such as R&B, jazz, and folk. Throughout it all, Jesse’s voice is warm and boldly vulnerable, his musicianship elegantly detailed, and his vision is sharp and refined.
Highlights from the 10-song album are the haunting soul-folk of “Another Side,” the simmering melancholia of “Homesick,” and the quiet fire healing of “Already.” “’Already’ is about my fiancé and I incurring heavy damage to our condo during Hurricane Sandy and the toll that took on our relationship,” Jesse explains. “The references to ‘tough storms’ have two meanings.”
In closing, Jesse says: “My sights for this album were set on presenting myself in the most musically authentic way possible–with an ever naked heart. My goal is to bring forth the overlap where the highly individual experience rubs up against the universal. I hope people hear my story in song and it inspires them to take the risks needed to stay true to themselves.”
— Lorne Behrman
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