For singer-songwriters, tragedy can become fertile ground for creative inspiration. In Jesse Macht’s case, a brush with mortality and the end of long-term relationship was all he needed to jumpstart his career.
After discovering that he had a heart condition that gave him an extra electric impulse that caused his heart to beat at 260 beats per minute, he had to have his heart electro-shocked to essentially short out the extra impulse.
“That experience sort of tripped me up, and I said, ‘OK, if this is what you’re going to do, you have to dive in,’” he said.
Weeks later, his longtime girlfriend broke up with him.
“Two intense punches,” Macht, 31, said. “That was a broken literal heart and a broken figurative heart all in a matter of a month.”
The band he was playing with had recently broken up, and although he was feeling a bit lost in his career, he went back to the drawing board to write songs, wrote with others and attended songwriting workshops to get back on track.
Armed with new material and a producer he met at a showcase, he made the album “Suitcase Heart,” released this past fall, a poignant, emotional album with a big sound. He plays an invitation-only house concert in Baltimore on Saturday, Jan. 24.
“His voice is beautiful to start with, but his music is really capturing,” said Susan Macht, a distant cousin, who is hosting the house concert. “He doesn’t just play music, he talks; he tells you why he wrote this song.”
For Macht, who grew up in Los Angeles, entertaining runs in the family. His father, Stephen Macht, has been acting since the late 1960s and has been on “General Hospital” and numerous other TV shows and in movies. Jesse’s brother, Gabriel, who is 11 years older than Jesse, stars on the USA series “Suits.” So from a young age, Macht knew his family was in the show biz.
While he has done some acting and still goes to acting auditions, Macht gravitated toward music.
“The guitar gave me an opportunity to express myself at any moment,” he said.
Macht can somewhat trace his singing back to synagogue. He attended a day school from pre-K through eighth grade, and he wasn’t much of a fan of having to attend services three times a week.
“I would harmonize with all the prayers, and that was my way of having fun, I think,” he said. “I was sort of learning that innate way of harmonizing with the ear.”
He played piano growing up and, later, guitar. Although his parents didn’t listen to any pop music, Macht would later discover some of his biggest influences including Billy Joel, Tom Petty and more recent songwriters such as Ryan Adams and Dawes.
“I really try to be as genuine as possible, trying my patience, my confidence, my creativity,” he said. “I’m looking for things in my life that really do make me feel emotional, do make me feel human. I try to give in to that sensitivity, step on the wound and see what comes out.”
His show at his cousin’s house comes in the middle of an East Coast run that includes shows in New York, Philadelphia, Columbia and York, Pa.
Later this year, Macht will release a Valentine’s Day song with a music video and another single, both of which will be paired with a holiday song he released this past year, “This Light,” on a forthcoming EP.
From there, he is looking to book a European tour since he has some fans there who have only seen him in live streamed performances.
“I’m trying to organize house concerts and venues,” he said. “Whatever comes next.”