Firecracker People could very well be the perfect driving record because it takes you on a journey itself. While Jessee’s charmingly distinctive voice and lyrics are the focus of the album, the elegant melodies and subtly embellished crystal-clear guitar soundscapes make the album complete. You will find yourself listening closely for each word, and singing along to every melody. Jessee’s songs are akin to short stories, introducing us to new characters and intimate life moments, both real and imagined. On the opening track, “Blue Always Finds Me,” Jessee takes the listener from Maine down to Texas and straight on up to a star-filled sky. The title track, originally penned for a yet-to-be released Parker Posey film, reveals Jessee’s knack for simplicity and universal truths: “We’re all firecracker people, going off all the time.” Jessee’s songwriting was well-loved by Ben Folds fans, and he surely won't disappoint in this new recording of fan favorite “Amelia Bright.” Never released on a Ben Folds Five album, the song is a breezy highlight, with a catchy piano hook and a sweet tale about a certain girl in a “red ‘50s dress from a thrift shop nearby.” The album ends with a masterpiece, “Run Away Happy”, that begins in simple folk styling, slowly building into a gorgeous pop tale about possibilities of creating a new life. But citing lyrics, listing complimentary adjectives and name-dropping references merely scratches the surface of an album that can be a deeply felt listening experience. Simply put: this is an album you can easily listen to in its entirety, imagining your own experiences along the way.
As a whole, Hotel Lights is not your average band, and Firecracker People is not an average record. The album, like the band itself, is eclectic, effortless and classic all at once. While their debut effort was a wondrously slow burn, Firecracker People shines bright from the start. And as Darren Jessee continues to blaze his own path as a songwriter with Hotel Lights, Firecracker People is a beacon for all to take notice.