Q - 1/03, p.1234 stars out of 5
- "...This classy debut showcases Jesse Sykes's rich, assured alto....The whole album has a dreamlike quality..."
Uncut - 12/02, p.1314 stars out of 5
- "...An exercise in understated majesty, like Low or Cowboy Junkies with added twang..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 1/03, p.93
"...RECKLESS BURNING is a gloriously bleak collection of songs, sparsely ornamented and drifting like smoke in evening chill. Sykes has a talent for pared down, sometimes oblique but always intensely evocative lyrics..."
Full performer name: Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter.
Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter: Jesse Sykes (vocals); Phil Wandscher (guitar); Anne-Marie Ruljancich (violin); Bill Herzog (stand-up bass); Kevin Warner (drums).
Additional personnel: Bruce Wirth (organ); Steve Moore (piano, mellotron); Tucker Martine (percussion, sound effects).
Taking what talents they've garnered from previous bands such as Hominy and Whiskeytown, lead singer Jesse Sykes and guitarist Phil Wandscher are onto something far bigger than the two could have foreseen. The opening title track lends itself as much to Margo Timmins as it does to a latter-day Lucinda Williams … la "Lonely Girls" in its almost morose tempo and arrangements, making the nearly seven-minute song glide along effortlessly and, to the listener, far shorter. The following numbers offer the same barren sounds, evoking images of members recording the songs in a log cabin. The well-trodden but solidly produced tracks never waver, especially "Doralee" and the slightly upbeat, honky tonk of "Lonely Hill." Resembling a trace of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon," the tune discusses heartbreak over a cross between Appalachian music and traditional country twang. "Don't Let Me Go" is another fine gem that doesn't stray too far from Sykes' strong points. While not having a dynamic range, she certainly knows what works. Only on "Drinking With Strangers," with its harmonies and backing instruments, does it sound a bit forced and too over-the-top. Returning to the melodic, swaying sound of "Love Me, Someday," the band is very well versed in a quasi dirge-country. A very sound and gentle series of heartbreaking vignettes makes this album so adorable. ~ Jason MacNeil