Not Even in July is the kind of record you have to live before you can write. The album is an exquisitely crafted and painfully human collection of songs that exhibit the measured persistence and spectral beauty of a breaking dawn. It feels as weathered and wise as an old home— alive, lived-in and loved. Like the family cabin in the Adirondacks where he writes, Not Even in July is Marchant’s safe and solitary haven— his place of emotional harborage.
Jesse Marchant, who records under his initials, JBM, was born and raised in his family’s homes in the Adirondacks and Montreal. Classically trained on guitar from the age of 7, he had always written instrumental songs as a means of expression, but it wasn’t until recent years that he began writing lyrics, singing and recording. After a decision to withdraw, he retreated to his family’s home in the mountains, to live in seclusion and fully realize songs that he’d written while living in Los Angeles, in what he’s described as a somewhat strange and solitary three-year existence.
After shaping and working an album’s worth of music, Jesse got in contact with Henry Hirsch who took instantly to the demos and the two, with a few visiting musicians, made the record in just two short weeks at Hirsch’s 19th Century church studio in Hudson, NY.
Not Even In July is a mostly acoustic venture, textured thoughtfully by Marchant’s atmospheric arrangements, lyrical purity and unaffected baritone— that is as grand in its haunting restraint as it is in its emotional vitality. “Years,” a lulling, finger-picked instrumental slips into “Cleo’s Song,” a ghostly reverie on loneliness and despair, while “Ambitions & War” targets Los Angeles, in a shuffling indictment of greed and inhumanity. “July on the Sound” crashes delicately and darkly through scenes of death, love and life; “From Me to You and You to Me” weaves a lazy, spiraling plea; and the resolute beat of “Friends For Fireworks” swings from the optimism and beauty of sunset to the dark finality of night. The album closes with “Red October” and its piano-drenched memories of a love lost, and “Swallowing Daggers”, a hopeless declaration of concern for a loved one gone off the rails.
Not Even In July is an improbably stunning feat from a man who, until this point in his life, had never considered being a musician or playing his songs live until this year (he’s now shared the stage with St. Vincent, Elvis Perkins, Tallest Man on Earth). It plays out like a painstakingly elegant, yet brutally honest break-up letter written by Marchant and addressed to many: a lover, a dying friend, a piece of himself and a passing phase of life. But it’s also a love letter— to what comes next, and to finally coming home.
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