Better known as the frontman of Thrice, Dustin Kensrue has been competing with the likes of Aaron Weiss and Jon Foreman for the title of “My Favorite Songwriter” since I checked out his band’s Alchemy Index project that released in Fall ’07 and Spring ’08.
Kensrue has a rare ability to project a rich vocabulary and understanding into purposeful lyrics with an amazing imagery, whether he’s drawing from the Bible, classic literature, or history. Thrice’s previous album, Vhiessu, while not as musically diverse as the four-part Alchemy concept (think a full album of Fire), is just as powerful lyrically. I knew he had done some solo work as well, but I didn’t check it out until I saw his 8-track release Please Come Home on clearance at Borders a couple weeks ago.
This is a side of Kensrue you haven’t seen if you’re only familiar with Thrice. It’s a stripped-down country/blues that the word “cowboy” seems to describe rather well, and it allows Kensrue to display his guitar skills in another style. Lyrical concepts include loving a hard-headed woman, the prodigal son, faith in God’s provision, and rest for weary saints. If you know your Bible you’ll recognize Scripture quoted in a “non-preachy” fashion. (A word of caution: Due to the stripped-down production, Kensrue’s voice sounds even raspier than usual.)
It’s different, but definitely something worth checking out if you enjoy excellent songwriting mixed with that old-style country swing that you don’t hear every day.
Between the river and the ravens, I’m fed
O sweet deliverer, you lift up my head
And lead me in your way