Sep 7, 2012 Daytrotter Studio, Rock Island, IL

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  1. Welcome to Daytrotter 00:03
  2. Forests 03:35
  3. Ferry 03:21
  4. Moonwatcher 04:35
  5. Keeping Up 04:17

Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry

The accompaniment that Jesse Marchant had during the making of his second album under the name JBM, "Stray Ashes," couldn't have been much and it must have come unexpectedly. Or, it must have revealed itself in such steady repeal that it felt as if the knife that it left behind would never be fully extracted, the scent would never be fully removed from the room. There would be a presence lingering of old companionship, old love, like a wine glass that gets left out over night, when everything's gotten too groggy and there's no reason to clean up. It sits on the table, with the drink's purple residue crusting to the bottom floor of the glass, a morning's reminder of what you partook in the evening before, likely without help, in complete silence as everything dragged on.

The swelling, then the smoldering and then the suffering are eternal here. They are one and the same and they are incorrigible. They are raw and they are more punishment than most men can withstand. There's barely any kind of living with any of the conditions, but when they come in such a succession, with joints, connective tissue and cartilage between them, it's not possible. Guts rot, heads and their wits turn to gizzards and hearts become marbled. The loneliness that Marchant writes about could never write itself. It could never get it right. It could never understand just what it really is, or how horrifically affecting it can be. These are stories of stunning beauty, though that beauty doubles as discontent. These are stories that are shivering through the autumns and the winters that are the backdrops here. They are best served with the kind of night or morning air that will seize your lungs and stop your heart front beating, even if just briefly. A shocking coldness is felt in these songs. There's and ungodly amount of betrayal, or what's seen as betrayal, or what's felt as abandonment. Marchant sings, "Winter came as a load/Frozen down to the bone/I lived here half asleep/Walking nights to the road/Empty, drunk and alone/In hopes you'd come to me/Before the morning/Before you're running/But why are you running?/Where are you running?/Home?" He never gets answers, ever, and so he continues his wandering, dragging himself from fog to fog, knowing that there is such a thing as happiness, but damned if it isn't elusive and cryptic. "Keeping Up," the closing song on "Stray Ashes," can't hide the agitation:
"A calm around me
Stray ashes that fall
In low light through the backwoods
And fatal ideas that gather
In the corners while I wait
For the limited return of feeling
It ain't worth the hold out for it
Once you feel like you've become unreal
And collide which is what
I've strayed out through the fog
But I can't feel the sun or the wind
So come out with it once
In a straight action
Crawl through my window
With your heart tied to a stick
Come out with it once
I'm afraid I can't afford to wait."

JBM Official Site

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