Our digital and social media producer Rachel Rohr is back from a month-long trip cross-country, talking with young Americans.
This week, NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson introduces us to a newly-released single by Jeremy Messersmith.
“What separates him from so many other sweet-voiced guys with guitars, is that he’s got boundless creative ambition. His three most recent albums form this gorgeous pop-rock trilogy about the circle of life,” Thompson tells Here & Now’s Robin Young.
Now that Messersmith has covered life, he is moving on to a new pop sound with his song “Tourniquet,” which will also be on a forthcoming album.
“He’s relentlessly committed to making these rich, lush, pretty pop songs and he does it incredibly well,” says Thompson. “He never overloads his songs with anything they don’t need, and yet, he puts an immense amount of thought into crafting them.”
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
Well, as he does every Monday, an NPR music writer and editor Stephen Thompson has come around to recommend a new song. Stephen, what have you got for us this week?
STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: I've got one of my favorite young singer-songwriters, a guy named Jeremy Messersmith. And what separates him from so many other sweet-voiced guys with guitars is that he's got boundless creative ambition. His three most recent albums form this gorgeous pop-rock trilogy about the cycle of life. And the last of three, "The Reluctant Graveyard," was sung entirely from the perspective of dead people.
And yet it sounds incredibly catchy and, ironically enough, full of life. Now he's moving on to other projects, new projects, starting with this lovely little pop song we've got here from an album that hasn't even been scheduled for release yet. The song is call "Tourniquet."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TOURNIQUET")
JEREMY MESSERSMITH: (Singing) When I see you crying, if your tears run out, I will lasso you with thunderclouds. When you're tired of trying, I won't stay away. I don't care what other people say. When there's nothing left to do, I will hold you close and wrap my arms around you. No, I won't let you slip. I'll be your tourniquet.
YOUNG: Very sweet.
THOMPSON: Yeah, and not sung from the perspective of dead people at all.
YOUNG: Well, you know, can you hold there a second because I want to talk more about this new song, but who were the dead people?
THOMPSON: It's very - it's various characters that he's created and his character sketches told from the standpoint of people who have died and somewhat how they died and how they feel about being dead. It's very clever, but the songs are super-warm and catchy, as you can kind of sense from the song that we're hearing now.
YOUNG: Well OK, bring us back to this new one, "Tourniquet," moving on, as you said, very filled with life.
THOMPSON: Yeah, and thematically it's less ambitious than a lot of his stuff. It's just a very, very sweet, sunny, fairly simple pop song that uses medicine, you know, tourniquet, as a metaphor for affection. But there's still this grandiosity and complexity roiling underneath the surface, especially as the song goes along, with lots of strings and details floating around.
He never overloads his songs with anything they don't need, and yet he puts an immense amount of thought into crafting them. So every time I've seen him live, he's brought like an eight-piece band with him, which is not terribly cost-effective, but that's what a lot of perfectionists do. And he's relentlessly committed to making these rich, lush, pretty pop songs, and he does it incredibly well.
YOUNG: OK, so "Tourniquet" from Jeremy Messersmith. By the way, where's he from?
THOMPSON: He's from the Twin Cities.
YOUNG: Oh, OK, and this song is from an album that has even been announced yet. That's how ahead of the curve NPR music writer and editor Stephen Thompson is. Let us know what you think of the song, and Stephen, thanks so much.
THOMPSON: Thank you, Robin.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
YOUNG: A soundtrack for your week. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.