JBM (thatâ€™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, itâ€™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 thatâ€™s more than just a little reminiscent of James Taylor.
The atmosphere is at times similar to early Leonard Cohen, especially the lovely highlight â€œCleoâ€™s Song,â€ with subtly-picked guitar and haunting, reverb-laden vocals. Lyrics like â€œThere ainâ€™t no use in cutting through the darkness that envelops you/You have to let the light come in instead,â€ 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 summerâ€™s day (particularly the weepy slide guitars of â€œFrom Me to You and You to Me,â€ and the piano-led â€œRed Octoberâ€), 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 â€œGoing Back Homeâ€ nicely carry this downcast torch, but the nice moments (including the piano and drum-led instrumental interlude in â€œJuly On the Soundâ€) can be lost in the overall bland same-ness, which ultimately makes this album come off like a folk â€œPure Moodsâ€ collection to be played in the background.
JBM doesnâ€™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.