Thrice Frontman Finds His Roots
The concept of a lead singer taking a break to record a batch of stripped down, acoustic tunes is no new idea to the punk or hardcore communities. Although the sound is completely different, past solo attempts are often quick to be dismissed as just that: attempts. Putting aside his duties as lead singer/songwriter for Orange County’s socially conscious powerhouse Thrice, Dustin Kensrue is able to break the mold by creating Please Come Home, a record that is not only sonically different but also worthwhile.
Please Come Home is a short affair. Kensrue, with the aid of Thrice guitarist Teppei Teranishi, crafted eight tracks heavy with woody acoustic guitar and injected with harmonica, piano and organ to compliment his traditional roots/folksy rock songwriting. In heavy contrast to the crashing, post-hardcore overtures of Thrice, Kensrue’s heartfelt songs range freely between alt-country, blues, and folk influences. “I Knew You Before” is as boot-stomping and grizzled as any Uncle Tupelo jam, while in true Ryan Adams fashion, Kensrue darkly coos, “Time to lay down my life / Honey I’d do it gladly for you,” on “Pistol.” “Blood & Wine” echoes early Johnny Cash as Kensrue details an outlaw life of womanizing, drug abuse and bank robbery between a snarling chorus of “Oh, now that I’ve tasted blood / Now this wine seems too thin.” Not all gloom and doom, “Consider the Ravens” is a relaxed, parlor piano-infused melody while “I Believe” is a bayou-bluesy acknowledgement of Kensrue’s coming to terms with his religious beliefs.
The true success of Please Come Home is steering clear of resembling an acoustic Thrice album or another scratchy-throated punker with his guitar unplugged. Instead, Kensrue has created a fantastic record that embodies the grittier side of folk/acoustic rock. Beer and front porch not included.