For Those Who Like: Sun Kil Moon, Damien Jurado, and Strand of Oaks
This year we have several male singer-songwriters put out great LPs. Mark Kozelek as Sun Kil Moon, Damien Jurado, Beck, Chad VanGaalen, and Timothy Showalter (aka Strand of Oaks) to name a few. Yesterday, New York-based-via-Montreal Jesse Marchant, who was previously known as JBM, released an album that would revival the work of these fine gentlemen.
On his self-titled album, Marchant has written a stunning album. It combines the greatness of the aforementioned artists’ 2014 recording – from the deep, thoughtful lyrics of Kozelek’s Benji about loves lost and those forgotten (including oneself), the haunting climaxes of Jurado’s Silver Timothy and VanGaalen’s Shrink Dust, the beautiful subtleties of Beck’s Morning Phase, and the stirring and surprising guitar solos of Showalter’s Heal. And like all these albums, the immediate reaction after first listen is that this album is absolutely beautiful and enthralling.
With his vocals that are a cross between Kozelek’s and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and his superb guitar work (Marchant has been playing guitar since the age of five), the album is loaded with gems that will allow you to escape momentarily from reality. “Words Underlined”, which opens the album, is a song that may leave you breathless with Marchant’s hallow falsetto and his story of what was and what could have been. “All Your Promises” echoes of Tennessee Fire era My Morning Jacket, including a falsetto that at times touches on the spine-chilling voice of Jim James. “The Whip” with its light strumming has a Neil Young vibe that live could be transformed into a surprising jam.
“Every Eye Open”, which was the album’s first single, has a Chris Isaak feel – that dark, melodic tone which underscores the story of a known but mysterious person. “In the Sand/Amelia” is a bit of mind bender, a slow burner that climaxes about two-thirds into the song before falling completely off and then finishing with a quick guitar burst. “Adrift” is a stirring, haunting song with quiet keys and strings in the background. It’s akin to Kozelek’s work as Sun Kil Moon combined with that ’80s feel perfected by Adam Granduciel and The War on Drugs.
With Jesse Marchant, Marchant has crafted a near-perfect, indie-folk album. It grabs a hold of you from the beginning and doesn’t let go. It sucks you in with Marchant’s lush harmonies, the beautiful melodies, or the personable, honest lyrics to which many of us can relate. It’s an album that must be heard and celebrated, as it is among the very best of the year.
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