This one’s been eking out piecemeal over the last couple of months, but to be honest, its hard to take The Storm Sessions as pieces. Since, essentially, the entirety of the record was put together as longform improvisations, the spontaneity and flow of the songs should hit the listener with the same fluid intensity in which they were conceived. The Storm Sessions is a journey one shouldn’t disembark lightly. Joined by longtime friend and collaborator Turner Williams (Ramble Tamble, Guardian Alien) in the sequestered aftermath of foul weather, the two sides play out with an appropriate ache of isolation that such circumstances might imply. At the heart of “Electric One” and “Electric Two” lies the interplay between Jesse Sheppard and Drew Gardner on acoustic and electric guitars, their strings as usual, locked into a sonic dive through the dark heart of desperation. Sheppard’s tangle of notes sings in hypnotic, soothing motion before Gardner lets into the improvs with an incandescent electric burn, lending a burnt plastic parlance to portions of the set.

Weaving his way through is Williams who adds shading to the cold confines of the storm with electric bouzouki and shahi baaja. This past autumn I saw Williams lay into the latter on stage with Jesse and it’s a sight to behold. Prowess aside though, Williams is a master collaborator adept at letting his playing lay a bedrock for these improvisations. On the A-side, his playing buzzes around Drew and Jesse in calligraphic embellishment. On the flip, he lays down a thrum that acts as an anchor pulling the two back from the cliff’s edge. Strung together, the three craft an album that’s as engrossing as their double set from last year, records that already stand out at the top of their catalog. With this, they’ve proven that even without planning to, they have the ability to outpace many of their peers with a sheer force of will. We’re barely a month into the year, but this already feels like a defining moment for 2020 musically.

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