Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Just the other night, Jesse Marchant - the young Canadian/New Yorker who records under his initials JBM -- mentioned to me in an electronic letter that he'd spent a lonesome night in the country, but as I read it on the screen, it didn't seem at all like complaining, nor was it meant to be. Marchant, who doesn't own a television, is right at home, surrounded by nothingness, just the cooling, sapping trees, fresh breathing air and dappled colors. This time of year, it must really be evident that in the middle of this nothingness is really where the soul and everything it's forced to drag along with it and behind it is meant to be. The record that Marchant made last year, after divorcing himself from the Hollywood/Los Angeles film and television scene, where he was trying to work as an actor, has the forest and all of the woodsy accoutrements, paw prints of stalking/frightened animals and hushed whimpers of the same creatures pressed into its flesh. "Not Even In July," is an album that forces you to scale back all of the sounds that you yourself are making, if only to be fully ingesting and lingering in the tender, tender, heartbreaking moments of languishing beauty, of beauty languishing. It's an unexpected and shocking record from a man who, to this point in his life had not played music in front of people, had never considered being a musician. But here Marchant is, before us, with arguably one of the most impressive and significant albums of the entire year, an ode to all of the dejections and sadnesses that come at the hands of such improbable and merciless happenstance that will always be peering out at us from the wings. Marchant wrote "Not Even In July" as he retreated from himself and from all of the very real worries accompanying what he was finding to be an unanswerable question: What am I going to do with my life? He planted himself in his family's cabin in upstate New York, where he wrote and went a little mad, with his mother's dog by his side. He just wrote, without any sort of goal or expectation, penning songs that lay out all of the most personal thoughts of doom and suffocating fear that are known to wee men. The secluded and cloistered existence that he forced upon himself must have started to amplify the insecurities and to ramp up the images of the worst case scenarios, making Marchant wade through debilitating thoughts, such as the recurring nightmare of dying all alone, as plausible as it can be for many who outlive all of their loved ones. It must have gotten more haunting, just as the fear and the weighty understanding of the finality and inevitability of death strikes children when the cruel truth first dawns on them. These realizations make for rough nights and those that Marchant spent with the pooch in the middle of the woods must have been teeming with numerous sleeping dogs other than the one he knew was there, haunting shadows ready to wiggle and bang and imposing spookiness - all stemming from the rational gloominess that comes from grasping the dimensions of what amount to such short stays in these bodies.
JBM Official Site