Reclusive singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester was one of the unsung heroes of the 1970s. Though he never achieved more than cult-figure status, his praises have been sung by everyone from Elton John to Bob Dylan, and his songs have been covered by Elvis Costello, Ted Hawkins and many others. Pop archivists Rhino Records have done the world a great service by collecting the highlights of Winchester's largely out-of-print catalog.
Winchester's material occupied the same general territory as that of The Band and early '70s Dylan, with its subtle country-folk flavor and offbeat images of Americana that simmered with unspoken emotions. Winchester's warm, soulful voice and finely crafted songwriting are represented by great early tracks like "Yankee Lady" and "Biloxi," both of which feature backing by members of The Band, and by some of the strongest cuts from his later albums (including "Defying Gravity" and the CD-only track "Dangerous Fun"). As this lovingly-annotated compilation makes clear, Winchester is a well-kept secret well worth finding out about.