Jesse Marchantwill release his fourth album,Illusion of Love, onJanuary 26thviaNo Other. In conjunction with today’s album announcement, Marchant shares lead single,“Sister, I,”a strong-willed ballad, featuring emotionally arresting string arrangements by film composerDanny Bensiand the accompanying video directed byBrady Corbet.
Brady is a close friend and I’ve been an admirer of his for a while. The execution of the video ended up proving immediately challenging as there are only a few remaining Skywriters in the country who write the old-fashioned way. We flew down to Kentucky with our friend and cinematographerZack Gallerand producerMcCabe Walsh, stayed on a horse ranch, and filmed both the solar eclipse and skywriting in the same day, all of us operating various cameras we had brought along. It was one of the most invigorating experiences of my life. –Jesse Marchant
Early one morning in May of 2016, Jesse Marchant came to on a street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, entangled with himself and his bicycle, after a crash on his way to work. He had been attacked by an irate school bus driver who knocked him speeding off his bicycle into a parked car. After flying over the hood and colliding with the back of another, Marchant landed on his head and was knocked out, splayed in the middle of the road. Things had gotten bad and it was time for a change.
Illusion of Lovemarks the end of an era. It’s the sound of awakening and emergence – from crises both personal and political. Though the opening track, “All These Kids I Never Knew,” starts the record off with Marchant recalling a year of social atrocities alone at the piano “shot in the back / while running away”, leading the first-time listener to believe that he might be setting the table for a collection of lonely ruminations, the opposite holds true. It’s a farewell to isolation, ushering in an album of buoyant, triumphant anthems. “Heart of Mine,” one of the album’s lead singles, which Marchant and his band tear through with an urgency unhinged, channels the essence of Neil Young with the spirit of Jim James, relating from the soul of a troubled youth as it comes to learn defiance.
Ever the patient observer, Marchant watches on at those around him who have suffered, decidedly more than he, with an openness to understand and ability to empathize that brings gravity to his lyrics. Layers of lyrical context can be peeled away and sifted through as Marchant runs the thematic gamut from the social commentary of “I’ve Got Friends” (“nowadays you can make a show of your life / to convince yourself of its worth / what do you think of my private vacation?”) to the tender, plaintive “Burning Red” which was written for an old love but never completed (“We could drive into the night / I’d play the songs you like / And let you sleep when you get tired”). Perhaps the definitive lyric from the album comes in the final song (and its title track) when Marchant asks twice, in a flurry of swelling synths and strings, “who do you love?”. A fitting moment, for an artist who’s grappled with so many difficult choices, to ironically find the ultimate answer in the form of a question.
Illusion of Lovewas recorded in the Autumn of 2016, atIsokon Studioin Woodstock, NY re-pairing Jesse with his Engineer and Co-ProducerD. James Goodwin (Kevin Morby, Bob Weir, Craig Finn) and many of his current and former touring bandmates,Anthony LaMarca(The War on Drugs, St-Vincent,The Building) on Guitar, Piano, Pedal Steel, Synths,Logan Coale(The National, Joanna Newsom, Jonsi, Wordless Music Orchestra, Now Ensemble) on Bass, andJason Lawrence(Dean & Britta, The Building) on Drums. Strings were performed and arranged by film composerDanny Bensi(Enemy, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Christine). The album was mastered byGreg Calbi.
Illusion of LoveTracklist: 1. All These Kids I Never Knew 2. Heart Of Mine 3. Distance Is The Only Measure 4. Sister, I 5. 6&5 6. I’ve Got Friends 7. In This Short Time 8. Frame For One 9. Burning Red 10. Nightships 11. Owl In The Dark 12. Illusion Of Love