JBM: Not Even in July
JBM (that’s the moniker of Canadian-born singer/songwriter Jesse Marchant) paints a lugubriously mellow picture on his debut album Not Even in July.
In many respects, it’s just another entry in the league of run-of-the-mill sad singers with acoustic guitars, but Marchant at least has a nice voice, a slightly awkward alto that’s more than just a little reminiscent of James Taylor.
The atmosphere is at times similar to early Leonard Cohen, especially the lovely highlight “Cleo’s Song,” with subtly-picked guitar and haunting, reverb-laden vocals. Lyrics like “There ain’t no use in cutting through the darkness that envelops you/You have to let the light come in instead,” are pretty much par for the course, but aptly serve their purpose.
These ten songs of folky melancholy are as suitable for a rainy day as they are for a lazy summer’s day (particularly the weepy slide guitars of “From Me to You and You to Me,” and the piano-led “Red October”), and evoke a solitary life somewhere in the countryside. I can easily imagine these songs sung across a rolling meadow from the porch of a wooden cabin at late afternoon.
Songs like “Going Back Home” nicely carry this downcast torch, but the nice moments (including the piano and drum-led instrumental interlude in “July On the Sound”) can be lost in the overall bland same-ness, which ultimately makes this album come off like a folk “Pure Moods” collection to be played in the background.
JBM doesn’t add anything new to the singer-songwriter paradigm, from the lyrics to the instrumentation, but no doubt fans of the style will find plenty to like.