Jesse Winchester started his career as a singer/songwriter with his self-titled debut way back in 1970, and many will at least be familiar with his work through other singers. Jimmy Buffett sang the lovely "Biloxi," Jimmie Dale Gilmore the dreamy "Defying Gravity," and Emmylou Harris the pensive "Songbird." All of these songs show a careful attention to capturing and holding fragile moments, pregnant with emotion. Winchester's Live From Mountain Stage performance is barebones: just a guy, his guitar, and a fistful of gems. While this setup may lack the dynamism of a studio album like 1999's Gentleman of Leisure, it has the quiet intimacy one might expect from catching a favorite singer at a local club. Songs like "Yankee Lady" and "Brand New Tennessee Waltz" hark back to his debut, while "Just Like New" and "That's What Makes You Strong" represent his '90s work. Winchester's subdued, sensitive vocals caress each phrase, filling delicately constructed pieces like "Songbird," "Eulalie," and "Little Glass of Wine" with deep feeling. To prevent an overdose of sentiment, "Just Like New" and "Gentleman of Leisure" throw in a bit of gentle humor. While Live From Mountain Stage never attempts to deliver the "Best of Jesse Winchester," it does offer a nice place to familiarize oneself with this first generation singer/songwriter.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.