I don’t feel like I’m just listening to him, but that he’s listening to me.
Photos by Cameron Wittig and Darin Back
Every person on this planet has a musical niche, or as some like to say, obsession. Whether this is an artist or a certain genre of music, sometimes there is something special that speaks to the listener. It could show up in the lyrics of a song, or in how a performer showcases himself on stage. Some of my favorite musicians are also my favorite people. One musician in my musical niche (okay obsession) is local singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith.
Jeremy Messersmith’s music is simple and dapper at its core, but it also often goes to farther reaches, and has a certain sharp intensity to it. Most of his songs at first listen are light and if you could smell them, they’d smell like the trees after a rain. His mix of acoustic guitar, piano, and often a collection of string instruments, are like a perfect mix of greens for a salad. They are easily digestible and can be enjoyed by themselves, but when mixed with his often heavy lyrics they become a harmonious combination of flavors. A perfect example of this is “The Commuter” off of Messersmith’s The Silver City album. With lyrics like, “Some nights I can’t feel my beating heart/I got a second hand body made with junkyard parts,” on top of a chord progression that sounds like soft cotton would sound. Messersmith creates a sense of loneliness in the song even though the chorus ultimately stresses hope.
Not all of Messersmith’s songs are like this, and some of his best songs either are plain giddy, or simply just plain sad. An example of a good Messersmith song to mope around to is “Love You to Pieces.” Its lyrics are reminiscent of Elliott Smith with lines like,”I had a thought that I never could capture/holding you and holding back/but I held too tight and it broke it and it shattered/I was watching while you cracked.” He has a particularly high voice and for some reason it makes the song have a very heavy, melancholy feeling. On the opposite end of the scale lies the song “Light Rail,” which should be the theme song to our light rail line. It’s a whimsical song, and showcases Messersmith’s excitement about everything around him. You can even hear the happiness in his voice when he sings it.
I’ve had the chance to see Jeremy Messersmith live a couple times, and every time has confirmed the reasons I admire him and his music so much. He’s a witty, talented performer and often his shows feel very conversation-like. I don’t feel like I’m just listening to him, but that he’s listening to me. Jeremy Messersmith is not an overstated musician or man. His music often seems simple, but it speaks volumes, and that’s why I love him so much.
Sararosa currently is in love with the local scene and wants to be best friends with all of Cloud Cult.