Picture yourself driving down a wide-open Texas road. There’s nothing to see for miles, just dust and highway. But it doesn’t feel empty; it feels open. Got that picture in your mind? Good. Keep it there, and now you’re ready to listen to Music for Film by The March Divide. Jared Putnam – the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist – drove around the Lone Star State while making the album, a fact that comes through in its lyrics and style.
Joined by his former band mates from The Conversation — Jorge Ramirez (bass) and Mike Hernandez (drums) — and bolstered by the cello and vocal contributions of Laura Wheeler, Putnam created an album that might double as a soundtrack for Texas.
“Still Analog” is Putnam’s luddite love song, as someone averse to change considers a shift for “Shannon,” the chorus line refrain and love interest of the track. It’s an unstoppably catchy song, delivering slick lyrics and driving at 100mph throughout, providing an interesting and immense contrast from the wandering pace of “Jose Cuervo,” the best track on Music for Film.
“Jose Cuervo” has equal measures of heart and grit, a tough combination to pull off. On it, Putnam walks you through a journey of emotions, moments lost and memories held, all set against a bizarre landscape that “is supposed to be the desert” in contrast to the fact “it’s snowing outside.” The chilly environment is warmed by Putnam’s vocals that sound rough without being raspy, and his performance is given depth by the addition of Wheeler’s vocals to the track. The song is laced with harmonica, used sparingly but with precision to give the track flavor and bring the listener into the rural landscape and to a town in the middle of nowhere. “I Don’t Remember Why” is a peaceful song that gets better with every listen. Putnam’s passionate cries are restrained to a semi-whisper, and his vocals are matched by a soothing guitar that slowly rises to a soulful conclusion.
Like a trip on a lonely Texas highway, though, much of the rest of the album is forgettable. “Pick Me Up” and “Flake” are also above-average entries, but even those occasionally suffer from sounding the same as the majority of songs on Music for Film, giving the listener musical fatigue by the end of the 10 tracks. Still, this debut effort from The March Divide delivers some solid songs and reveals an artist worth keeping up with — whether you’re driving through Texas or not.