The man once revered as JBM simply goes by Jesse Marchant, but what hasn’t changed is his elegant songwriting. He’s just announced Illusion of Love, his latest release, and with that announcement comes this stunning video and single. Marchant seems to have delved deeper into the accompaniment around his style, filling this track with a beautiful piano movement and string arrangements, immersing the listener in the fullest emotional experience; you match that with the powerful video and you have a recipe for success. This new LP will drop on January 26th via No Other.
Well, everyone else is doing it, so why don’t we? We’re going to toss out our top five albums of the year, except we’ll be doing it with our four main contributors, so hopefully that’ll mix things up a bit. Obviously, we’re only half-way through the year, so things are subject to change, and by things I mean our minds.
Truly heartfelt emotion is difficult to insert into a song, but it seems that Jesse Marchant, aka JBM, really excels in this sphere of the musical world. His newest album, Stray Ashes (Western Vinyl) is soaked with emotion, and a lot of that has to do with Marchant’s voice, but he also implements careful accents to each song, giving listeners with an active ear pure joy.
Make no mistake about it, listening to Stray Ashes is probably going to leave you in a sullen/somber mood; there’s very few tracks that could even be described as upbeat, but that’s what will enable listeners to completely lose themselves in the work of Marchant. “Only Now,” which is a piano driven tune, is one of the few numbers on the record that I could see as even remotely light-hearted, and that revolved around the mood created by the pounding piano (and the brief drill of the snare drum). Still, Marchant’s vocals do their best to sway you away from feeling light-hearted; it’s as if he wants you to sink into the tracks, just as he dove into writing them, lost in his own world. “Forests” is the other tune that I feel has a brighter quality. I really enjoy the opening guitar line, and the way it sort of trickles in and out of your consciousness as you go to focus on Jesse’s voice; this song is my personal favorite.
Clearly, JBM‘s art is personal; you don’t write songs of this sort without completely investing your soul in the composition. So when listening, it’s hard not to look deep inside of these songs, and yet close examination just lets you lose yourself in the construction of the song. For instance, the opener, “Ferry” has this shaker that comes in and out of the track, then disappears, only to be replaced by a thinly veiled backing vocal. Each time I listen, I try to search to see where, or if, they overlap, and each time, I’m more and more involved in the track; well played Jesse Marchant. This a theme throughout the entirety of Stray Ashes, which is what helps you escape the occasionally monotonous tones of Jesse’s voice, which, by the way, I can’t entirely place. It’s definitely familiar and been referenced to Jim James, but I’m not sure that’s what I’m thinking. Anyways, aside, aside. Even the gently strummed tracks like “You Always Keep Around” or “Crooked Branches” have these faint flourishes (slide guitar, random percussion, etc) that are barely audible, but they’ll guide you to the immeasurable joy you’ll take out of each individual song; I can attest to this.
Initially, I couldn’t get into Stray Ashes as a whole. It had some standout moments, but I wasn’t sold entirely on Jesse Marchant’s voice (might not be still). However, the wonderful thing I discovered about JBM, as I’ve alluded to, is that he has the innate knack to draw you in emotionally with the song itself, then bring you in deeper with those extra touches that only come from truly gifted songwriters. Each time I listen to a track, I immediately play it again to see if I heard what I thought I heard initially, and in the end, I find myself falling aimlessly into the song, and into the record itself.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/JBM-Winter_Ghosts.mp3]
Download:JBM – Winter Ghosts [MP3]
It’s taken me some time to come around to the stylings of Jesse Merchant, a.k.a JBM, but I think his new record Stray Ashes has turned me into a permanent fan. The subtle songwriting approach from JBM isn’t going to make you want to jump and dance so don’t come here looking for that. No, these tunes are going to make you stop, take a long listen, and really appreciate the subtleties of each song. It’s a contemplative album that continues to get more intriguing with each passing listen. Keep your eyes peeled for the May 22nd release date on Western Vinyl. Until then, we have this beautiful new song “Winter Ghosts” for you to enjoy below. While you’re at it, check out new song “Only Now” over at Paste for even more greatness.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/JBM-Winter_Ghosts.mp3]
Download: JBM – Winter Ghosts [MP3]
|Tickets||$12 @ Frontgate|
The incredible A.A. Bondy is making another appearance in Austin at the ND this Friday. Joining the talented singer songwriter on the stage for a dual headlining show is JBM. The ND website also has veteran Austin act Milton Mapes
listed as opening the show, but I can’t seem to confirm that with the band. Confirmed – MM won’t be there.
Download: A.A. Bondy – When the Devil’s Loose [MP3]
|Tickets||$15 from FrontGate|
We weren’t huge fans of Sondre Lerche’s last album, but we still value him as a musician and songwriter. If he floats your boat, head on over to The Parish on Wednesday night to check out his intimate set. Opening support will be provided by JBM. I’m gonna drop an old tune down below to show you why we’ve still got love for ya Sondre.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/04-two-way-monologue.mp3]
Download: Sondre Lerche – Two Way Monologue [MP3]