Jesse Marchant, the Candian songwriter and recording artist formerly known as JBM, premieres his debut single, “Go Lightly,” announcing his forthcoming album, Antelope Running. The atmospheric entrance track did not come quickly or easily to the artist. His self-discovery as he persevered throughout the process reveals itself kindly in this telling tune.
“‘Go Lightly’ was one of those songs that almost fell by the wayside,” says Marchant. “ 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.”
The track is more abstract than others on Antelope Running, but it encompasses themes entangled throughout his fifth studio album. Marchant started work on the lyrics in February 2020, just weeks before the pandemic began.
While grateful for the unplanned time at home with his wife, his songwriting–a process he describes as “extremely private”—became more challenging. Seeking a more fruitful environment, he flew out to Los Angeles and then rented a house up in the Catskills. He penned the song from the mountain house, overlooking a stream.
“Who knows if that somehow subconsciously played a part,” he shares. “I write the music first and play it over and over until eventually an image or melody will come to me,” he explains. “Over time the images come forward, and then something happens and lyrics come up. So it was through playing this song and sinking into some of the lines that I became comfortable and it revealed a greater meaning for me. It was like swimming deeper and deeper into a pool, you don’t know how deep you’re going to get, and it did get even deeper this time.”
From an artistic approach, there is a theme everyone can relate to this year: “accepting the way it had to be and growing into it.” His rising confidence with the tune allowed the song to “bloom”—eventually serving as a pillar track for his upcoming record.
“I am proud of how it moves through its different sections seamlessly, like a stream that flows and forms into pools before continuing on to do so again and again,” he explains.
Marchant doesn’t listen to his previous albums, so he only remembers what they felt like at the time of creation. “This one did feel like it had a maturity with the approach,” he admits. “I had confidence with how structure and arrangements were going to go. I felt less anxious in the process, less neurotic.”
His longtime bandmate, Jason Lawrence played drums, and Logan Coale (Taylor Swift, The National, Now Ensemble) performed electric bass. With the help of his co-producer and engineer, D. James Goodwin he obtained his dry and tight feel with the treatment of the drums and bass and overdubbed synths—reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Animals.
Stuart Bogie (Arcade Fire, Antibalas, Fela!) colored in the song structure with clarinet arrangements and performance took the song to new sonic heights, “opening a dimension” the artist says he “could not have reached with words.”
Beyond approach, the lyrical content reveals a husband with a more domestic lifestyle than he bore in earlier records. At 40, with limited exterior interactions, this work looks inward at things which he can usually distract himself from, like his home life.
“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 its peripheral elements—for better or worse,” he shares. “I have often lived more in that periphery or been prone to fantasy, so it also about that.”
Listen exclusively to Jesse Marchant’s new single, “Go Lightly,” below. Pre-save the track, here.