Jesse Norell released Aorta Borealis in early March and celebrated with a live show at the Parkway Theater on April 8. It is a very personal album about Jesse’s daughter Alyssa. On the day she was born, her parents found out that Alyssa has Down’s Syndrome and a heart condition that required two surgeries. The album about Jesse’s journey with her, perilous and dark and times but a story with a happy ending.
We had an opportunity to speak with Jesse in February. We learned that this album is a call back to music for Jesse. He told us about how much his daughter changed his life; his song Welcome to Sydney speaks to that as well. Kids do change the lives of their parents but a kid with unexpected complications changes your life in unpredictable ways. Jesse’s album celebrates the scariness of the unknown and the highs of unbridled love and appreciation.
The songs are tear jerkers. You cry when he sings about waiting through surgeries, wishing he was climbing a tree with Alyssa, not planning a eulogy. And you tear up when he sings, You Are, which is a celebration of the joy of kids. Hearing Jesse sing live in the Parkway, the album feels like a movie. The lyrics are so detailed and descriptive that it feels like you are in the hospital with him. The energy is palpable.
His voice fluctuates from falsetto to deep and rich. Even from the back row you can feel the resonating cello and the drum beating like a heart and getting stronger and stronger. There are moments where I was so engrossed I was in the scene and then something would bring me back to myself. Like thinking about when Jesse sings about a broken heart, it’s an entirely different broken heart then most songs. It’s a gift of perspective.