The March Divide: Music For Film
There’s a lot to be said for striking out on your own as a musician. Leaving the band behind and letting your creative vision shine through is what has led many songwriters to developing solo records/careers and reliable side projects. This is the basis for The March Divide, the new recording project from Jared Putnam, formerly of The Conversation. Putnam’s new effort, and the first as The March Divide is the incredibly poppy, acoustic-based Music For Film.
This largely self-produced work brings together Putnam with former band mates Jorge Ramirez on bass and Mike Hernandez on drums. In addition to Putnam’s emo-style singing voice the album also employs cellist Laura Wheeler’s more substantial voice to add some much needed variety. To be honest, the musicians all do a great job on their parts and the record sounds well mixed, but I found little compelling about the album as a whole.
Putnam’s writing could be partly to blame. While the compositions are excellently crafted, the lyrics are too often about emotional insecurity and sung accordingly. Certainly a lover of acoustic emo music will find this to be a great album, but it fell far too flat for my tastes and even with a running time just over a half hour it bored me easily. That is not to say there aren’t highlights. The opener, “Still Analog” is a fun track that gets the album off to a lively start. Putnam’s hooks are nothing if not infectious, and he sure plays the guitar like a pro.
“Skinny Brain” employs very subtle percussion along with gorgeous guitar work and Wheeler’s almost soulful voice to great effect. This track recalls a country rhythm while maintaining the emotive songwriting and really builds to an incredibly moving conclusion. “I Don’t Remember Why” is another song with a great melody that builds simply on an acoustic guitar part to include Wheeler’s lush cello.
“Jose Cuervo” is one of the album’s best tracks, once again pairing Putnam and Wheeler’s well-suited vocals with just the guitar and a sporadic harmonica lead. Lonely and full of longing, I think this one stands out because of its sparse harmonious atmosphere. There’s a melancholy honesty pervading the lines of this song that anyone who’s ever lost themselves in a bottle of tequila could relate to.
To disclaim my rather low opinion on this album, I will say I am not a great fan of emo. Putnam’s vocal style makes up a great deal about this album that I dislike, but that really should not turn others off from its merits. Music For Film is a good album for a quiet, contemplative afternoon or for remembering harder days long since passed. The lyrical content doesn’t exactly scream maturity, but it’s honest and heartfelt and the songs themselves are well crafted with rhythm and melody in mind. If you really dig this kind of music, give it a listen and see where it takes you.
MP3: The March Divide “Skinny Brain”