Since I work better and concentrate best at night I thought I would write about my favorite album of 2012 thus far – Jesse Marchant’s (JBM) Stray Ashes…Yeah, right… It seems like I have the most difficult time writing about albums I love and listen to the most. Why is that I wonder? Could it be that fear of expressing that emotion of love to the object of your affection? But, why be afraid? Unlike telling the person of your dreams you love them, and, then, fearing the worst, Stray Ashes can’t reject me. Or, could it be because I have listened to it so much that it has become a part of who I am, hence I have been having a difficult time trying to write about it. You know, like when you’re in an interview and the interviewer asks you to describe yourself to him or her, or describe your best and worst qualities. Or, when your filling out a profile for an online dating service and you finally come to the “About” section, no one really knows what to say. Then again, maybe I don’t know what to say. After all, I am self-effacing and emotionally retarded. Anyway, these are the roadblocks I have been facing while writing about Stray Ashes.
Stray Ashes is without a doubt one of the most complex, interesting, and impressive albums of the year. Many would consider this an album best listened to in the wee-hours of the night or when there’s a bit of a chill in the air, but I find it’s great any time and in any weather. It’s the textural elements of the album that grabs me. Different and interesting, especially with the pedal steel and strings, that adorn the songs with a fine dichotomy of hope and despair. Each instrument and sound in its proper place, never making a misstep, swirling and droning around and with every lyric uniquely sung by Marchant.
Vocally, Marchant adds another compelling element to Stray Ashes. His voice beautifully pained as if emotionally choked-up and having a hard time communicating and vocalizing. The texture is fascinating. It wraps the listener in something wonderfully dark, beautiful, and, oddly, comforting.
So, when I say that some find Stray Ashes more suited for cooler weather and late night listening, you’re probably right. But, again, for me, it’s perfect anytime because I prefer gray skies to sunny and I like nights better than days. And despite my melancholy preferences, there is no doubting that Marchant can construct amazing songs that have a quiet, straightforward impact which is another reason why Stray Ashes is one of my favorite albums of the year.
“On Fire On A Tightrope”