ALBUM: Stray Ashes
Label: Western Vinyl
Things get off to a haunted start – a repetition of a quietly hammered-on guitar riff, the almost-implied drums tensely contributing to the tension. JBM’s sophomore record begins with a song called “Ferry”, which to my mind can only trigger images of movement, traveling, leaving. The introduction says goodbye. “Only Now”, the record’s second song, realizes the implications of what saying goodbye really meant. The pain is real now, and there’s no turning back. The dark piano chords signify that painful familiarity, the regret.
JBM is a classically trained guitarist. That professional musicianship comes through, and admittedly that tends to bug me from time to time–I never liked arrogance that much in my rock stars–but Canadian-born Jesse Marchant excels in his ability to exercise subtlety. While he could be accused of riding the coattails of Bon Iver, The Tallest Man on Earth–and indeed he has spent time onstage with him, lumped in with them in critical reviews–I get the feeling that Marchant isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. He’s crafted a beautiful album.
It really does seem to follow the narrative of saying goodbye to a loved one. In my younger days I could imagine putting this on for a good cry. Not anymore, of course… I’m too old for that… Anyway, it’s a fine album. Something to listen to with parents over dinner, while pumping them for cash when you visit home for a few nights. Nothing highly remarkable, but certainly not offensive either.
By Will Anderson