JBM is Canadian singer/songwriter Jesse Marchant. HIs 2010 debut Not Even In July was one of my favorites of that year, so this new release came with great expectation. Marchant has not let me down as Stray Ashes is a fantastic follow-up. JBM's music is acoustic based, primarily slow, but warm, peaceful and inviting. Nothing about that has changed between the first and second albums and he avoids that second album let-down by staying with what he excels at.
If there is one current artist I'd most compare Marchant's vocals to, it is My Morning Jacket's Jim James. There are times on Stray Ashes when it is difficult to decipher the lyrics through his drawl, but this ultimately does not distract from the lovely music contained here. Tracks like "Ferry" and "Winter Ghosts" will have you ready for the upcoming change in seasons as they call to mind barren trees and snow covered landscapes.
"Only Now" is a little more electric than most of JBM's material with moments of pounding drums and shimmering guitars, while "Forests" bounces along on a soulful bassline. But it's the more subdued material that is JBM's bread and butter and "On Fire On A Tightrope" is among the best here. Marchant's voice is accompanied by just guitar for the majority of the track before he slowly brings other elements into the mix and the song closes with gorgeous falsetto wails.
JBM may not be the household name acts like Bon Iver and Mumford and Sons are, but his music will certainly appeal to fans of those artists. He is deserving of a much higher profile. This is staggeringly beautiful music and one of 2012's best.
Stray Ashes was released May 22, 2012 on the Western Vinyl label.