The songs on All You’ve Lost by Jesse Werkman are serene and atmospheric to the point you feel as if you can fall asleep to them if you aren’t actively listening. Don’t get that statement confused with meaning that the songs are weak. I fall asleep to Bon Iver and Grouper all the time. Werkman’s main weapons in forming these atmospheric songs are his vocals, guitar and reverb. He also implements bass, drums and other elements but it feels ornamental compared to the former.
The EP starts with “Season (Prelude)” and if any song is going to make you fall asleep it's this one. Werkman lightly picks at whole notes on his guitar while pads and what sounds like chimes someone would have on their front porch play in the background.
“Season (Prelude)” seamlessly transitions into “Snow” which revolves around the same elements. The major difference is Werkman’s singing. He tinkers with the reverb quite often, which is a technique that is often underutilized. Novice engineers tend to dial in a certain setting and let it ride. Top notch producers like Nigel Godrich take full advantage of tweaking the reverb to emphasize certain words, phrases, etc. “Snow” plays into Werman’s strength and combines solace, melancholy and nostalgia.
‘Take My Heart” is a different beast than the first two tracks. There is a mainstream viability here that for better or worse is present. His vocals while well-sung and dynamic sound close to popular singer/songwriters and the drum beat he chose gave it a single worthy type vibe. It wasn’t a personal favorite but all things considered might be the track that gets him the most attention.
The title track resonated with me. Everything feels soft and warm in this track from the piano to the sub frequencies on the kick drum. He has made some good aesthetic choices here. He closes with “Circles” which contains Bon Iver style guitar and engaging overlapping vocal harmonies.
Werkman has some talent in the songwriting department and certainly has a good singing voice. I preferred the lush aspects of his songs that have more in common with artists like James Blake and Bon Iver. If he keeps on that trajectory while developing his own style he should be good to go.
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