This new single from Jesse Marchant is available from today, and is taken from the Canadian multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and record producer’s new album ‘Antelope Running.’ ‘Go Lightly’ is a strikingly crystalline construction, the piano breathing a chill over the meditation on an ending whilst the clarinets add a further melancholic edge. Strange, then, that the album almost came together in January 2020 whilst Marchant was staying in Hollywood, but the feeling didn’t seem quite right for the music Jesse Marchant had gathered. He’d been revisiting a happy time, just down the street was the apartment where he had lived over a decade before when he was writing his first record. Now, though, homeless encampments littered the sidewalks where before there were none, and the mood in the air was strained. The nostalgia was fading in the new reality, and it didn’t seem the right place for the music. It was a hazy stay in a stream-side Catskill cottage after the California trip, and months at home in Brooklyn, with protests and riots consuming the city, and a nightly firework occupation of the neighbourhood that lasted months that saw ‘Antelope Running’ completed. Explosions, lockdowns, electricity, anger & angst. And still 2020 had some more changes in store – during the summer of isolation in the forest, Marchant heard that he would become a father.
Jesse Marchant told us about the evolution of the song and the album: “‘Go Lightly’ was one of those songs that almost fell by the wayside. I had the piano part for quite some time but struggled to find the vocal melody, imagery and words. The falsetto notes that open the song came to me one morning when I was playing the chords, but I lacked confidence in that range for my voice, as it was somewhat new to me. Over time my confidence with it deepened and the song began to bloom, later to become one of the pillar tracks of the record. I am proud of how it moves through it’s different sections seamlessly, like a stream that flows and forms into pools before continuing on to do so again and again. Incidentally, I wrote the song in a rented Catskill home that overlooked a stream, so who knows if that somehow subconsciously played a part. I wanted the production to have a dry and tight feel, something like what Pink Floyd was doing on Animals, particularly in the treatment of the drums and bass. My engineer and coproducer D. James Goodwin did a great job with that. Stuart Bogie (Arcade Fire, Antibalas, Fela!) took the song to another level for me with his beautiful arrangement for 2 clarinets, which he also performed. It takes over the song in moments in a way that I find so arresting and beautiful – opening a dimension that I could not have reached with words. I owe him a debt of gratitude for that. Although I began writing the lyrics in Feb. ’20 just before the pandemic began, I was working on it throughout and believe that the forced isolation of that period played a significant role in where it ended up. To me the song is about being forced to take stock of the life you’ve chosen for yourself, or have arrived to, when you remove all of it’s peripheral elements – for better or worse. I have often lived more in that periphery or been prone to fantasy, so it also about that.”
Photo: Jen Steele