Please Come Home is the freewheeling solo debut of Thrice frontman Dustin Kensrue. Kensrue’s folk-country labor of love has finally taken shape with a minimalist 8-song release featuring Thrice axe-man Teppei Teranishi and the band’s guitar tech, Chris Jones.
The album kicks off with a double-time acoustic number called “I Knew You Before.” Kensrue sends a scathing message with sharp lyrics aimed at the degradation of women. Interesting fare, for sure, and it proves quite the compelling opener for Please Come Home. The title track is a rather unexpected ballad that stands proud although at times seemingly scattered. The arrangements feel a little off until Kensrue hits the chorus for the first time, and then he finds his groove. “Blanket of Ghosts” is the surefire sleeper song on the album. Sounding as though Kensrue decided to channel Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz, the song meanders along with an organ-heavy accompaniment (courtesy of Thrice’s Teranishi). Many listeners may skip this song, but it reminds me a lot of Duritz’s “A Long December,” with its slick lyrics, extended solos, and pleasing tone.
The devout singer is not above seemingly confessional songs. “Blood & Wine” is a perfect example, with its dark imagery and lamentations about womanizing and drug abuse serving as a stark warning to all those who may be tempted. The song starts out slow, but eventually speeds along at breakneck pace before finishing just shy of two minutes in length. Short and sweet, just the way Kensrue wanted the album to be. His music dances between light and dark, moral and immoral, fast and slow with effortless poise.
Don’t hastily write off Dustin Kensrue because of the religious themes touched upon in this record. Instead, settle down into a comfortable chair and let his smooth vocal delivery and moving lyrics speak to you. Different people will uncover different messages within the songs on this record, and that is the mark of a truly strong, contemplative CD. Avoiding the alt-country stigma, Please Come Home certainly is no “neighbor shot my dog, screwed my girlfriend, and stole my tractor” hell-raiser of a record. Instead, this pleasant, introspective album retains its integrity. Rising above the ashes of his contemporaries, Dustin Kensrue has achieved his dream in a way that few thought possible.