Dustin Kensrue - Please Come Home (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Dustin Kensrue

Please Come Home (2007)

Equal Vision

Solo albums usually fall into two categories. Roughly half of these releases are little more than pretentious self-experimentation, something that sounds so outlandish it couldn't possibly be digested by anyone other than hardcore fans of the artist's primary band. The other half usually sees the performer in a stripped-down setting, relying on little more than an acoustic guitar and a voice to get a point across. What's interesting is that while not a solo act, lately Thrice seems to be delving into the former part of this all-too-common dichotomy...which gives frontman Dustin Kensrue a chance to go the route of the latter, using less instrumentation and showing more introspection on his solo debut, Please Come Home.

"I Knew You Before" opens the record nicely enough, with Kensrue's gruff voice and driving acoustic guitar work carrying the song. The immediate comparison that came to mind was Ryan Adams, and the following track, "Pistol," is a slower number (with some great harmonica to boot) that continues to validate that comparison. Both "I Believe" and "Blood & Wine" are fantastic straight-up blues tracks, the former moving at a slower, galloping pace and the latter a considerably faster sub-two minute affair. The final three tracks of Please Come Home slow things down a bit musically as all three tracks eclipse the four-minute mark. While it does slow the album's momentum a bit, the songs here are so strong it doesn't become a detractor. "Consider the Ravens" features some appropriately placed piano, played by Thrice guitarist Teppei Teranishi. "Weary Saints" is actually the lone track on this record that sounds like it could pass as an acoustic Thrice B-side. The closer, "Blanket of Ghosts" is a classic closer for an album of this ilk. The emotion seeping through the speakers, while present throughout, is nearly palpable on this track. I never thought I'd comment on organ play in any song, but the organ in "Blanket of Ghosts" (also played by Teranishi) really adds to the despondent aura of the song.

The lyrical content of Please Come Home is status quo for the genre. Themes such as addiction, loss, faith, death, and lonesomeness are all present. Kensrue isn't reinventing the wheel here because for this type of music he doesn't have to. Those previously mentioned themes have been prevalent in blues and country since their respective inceptions and hopefully that never changes. The sole complaint I can muster for this record is its runtime. At eight tracks and just under half an hour it feels more like a glorified EP than a full-length. I don't know if many of Thrice's fans would be into this record, but undoubtedly that's not the goal here. When taken at face value, Please Come Homeis more than solid enough to stand on its own as an extremely enjoyable debut and shows a world of promise for Dustin Kensrue as a singer-songwriter.