Jesse Terry’s forthcoming album, When We Wander began in the year before he became a father. As it unfolds, the lyrics chronicle paving the road to paternity, and filling into his role as a father after his daughter, Lily, is born. Premiering today (April 14) , “Hymn of a Summer Night” is on the early end of that story, reflecting on the teenage years he is leaving behind. The nostalgia-tinged track wields ethereal instrumentation to paint a vivid portrait of what now seem like halcyon days.
“Looking back at the teenage years, it seems more romantic now, but really it was a big mess,” Terry tells American Songwriter over the phone from a secluded lake house in South Carolina. “The reality was not quite as idyllic as the lyrics suggest. But the song is an escape, just like those times were an escape for me growing up in a small town on the river. There wasn’t great stuff going on at home, so my group of misfit friends became family.”
Terry met his wife, Jess working on a cruise ship in the South Pacific. He proposed to her at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe in July 2010, shortly after they returned to the states. As he recalls, “we packed up the car for the first tour right after that. We’ve been touring together full-time ever since.” Now with two-year-old Lily on the road, family is more important than ever to him. The artist says, “Everything for me starts with my girls; they make everything worthwhile. They make mundane, so beautiful, long drives fun.”
He continues, “This album focuses on any issues that need to be addressed heading into fatherhood. There are no excuses anymore because you’re now shaping innocent life — nothing is more important.”
Recorded in 2019 in Nashville with producer Neilson Hubbard (Mary Gauthier, Glen Phillips), Terry and his band recorded When We Wander live in the studio, under Hubbard’s advice. Recording his seventh studio album live for the first time in his career feels like “another level.” Terry explains, “You have to believe in yourself and your band to really do that. After the tape was rolling and things were feeling really great, it was such a revelation. I’ve never enjoyed making or recording music so much. Hearing the band respond in real-time to a pedal steel riff then in-turn responds vocally was amazing. I can hear it in the music—the joy is there.”
Listening through the 12-track collection, the artist exudes confidence that previously hides behind the overthinking and self-doubt that a multi-take recording process often involves. When We Wander is not only a personal milestone for the artist but a pivotal moment in his journey as a career musician.
“A lot of my older stuff I really do dig, but if I put anything side by side to this, it would sound like a different guy,” says the artist. “That’s totally okay to me though, they’re snapshots in time. I’m still really proud of my first record, but it’s definitely is a journey. Often, an artist is painted by their first record, but you should always be able to keep growing.”
Listen exclusively to Jesse Terry‘s “Hymn of a Summer Night” below. Pre-save the track before its April 16 release for a chance to win a march bundle, here. Pre-order his upcoming album, When We Wander, before May 14.