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Stray Ashes

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iTunes Review

While Jesse Merchant’s 2010 debut album, Not Even in July, played like a satiating interlude between My Morning Jacket albums, his second outing under the JBM moniker finds the singer/songwriter more comfortable in his own voice. With Stray Ashes, that comfort thrives in the womblike darkness of rootsy melancholia. “Ferry” sets the tone, with Merchant singing in near-mumbles over saturated electric guitar reverb and a hushed rhythm section, all arranged sparsely with plenty of pitch-black negative space. “Only Now” follows with a gradual swell of increasing tension; the instruments gang up on Merchant to trap him in a corner of his own devices. The aptly titled “Winter Ghosts” is both desolate and haunting. Eerie drones hum behind distorted electric guitar picking, as a distant tambourine keeps time. But it's the elongated vowels in Merchant's tortured howls that make this song a beautifully disturbing standout. There’s also a groaning slide guitar in “You Always Keep Around” that accompanies Merchant like a spectral voice. Stray Ashes is one of 2012's best after-midnight albums.

Customer Reviews

Great artist, great album.

it's quite the build on to the first album by JBM. i enjoyed the first but this one seems to have a deepening complexity that lends itself to many listens. i seem to find new layers each time i play the album. good to hear an album with heart and originality. inspiring, i'd say.

No Sophomore slump here

This whole album is great. Though it's a little darker in comparison to his first, I think JBM did a great job with evolving his sound and giving us something that's a bit different but still the JBM we all love.

Great stuff

An incredibly moving and soulful album. A terrific follow-up to JBM's first. Unique sounds that
become more beautiful each time you listen to it.

Stray Ashes, JBM
View in iTunes

Customer Ratings