|Album Review: Jesse Mac Cormack – Now|
Jesse Mac Cormack
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They say patience is a virtue- but in music, patience is an absolute godsend. Montréal singer-songwriter Jesse Mac Cormack has it in spades. During the past five years, he has released three EPs, gone on tour supporting the likes of Patrick Watson and Cat Powers, and helped produce for other artists such as all of Helena Deland's 'Altogether Unaccompanied' collection. Throughout this busy stretch of time, the one thing that Cormack hasn't done is release a full length album. Instead, he chose to use the time to redefine his vision and find a sound that felt just right.
Well, the wait is finally over. Departing from his folk sensibilities, Cormack's exhilarating debut album Now is a bold and adventurous ten-track journey across a psychedelic desert landscape- a bare canvas filled in with vivid colours and evocative sounds.
Every track on this album feels meticulously arranged and emotionally exposed. In some ways, these songs have been on the back of Cormack's mind for years, brewing until the timing for them was just right. One such song is the lead track off the album, "No Love Go".
Dark and emotive, "No Love Go" shows off Cormack's impressive range not only as a vocalist and songwriter, but as a composer as well. While steel drums are usually associated with a more lively, beachy theme, Cormack manages to incorporate them into this somber piece as if they have always belonged in melancholy love songs . It's this cleverly singular arrangement of instruments that gives Now an undeniable tinge of cool that simply wasn't present in his earlier works. While some songs are ruled by sentiment, others choose to tell a story with their instrumentation rather than lyricism. Songs like "Stay" take on a dramatic turn with brisk drumming and electric guitar melodies supported by a bass line so alive, you can feel it breathing along with the song.
The main theme of Now is closely intertwined in Cormack's imagery of Death Valley- an exploratory journey of the human spirit and all its intricacies. The album's namesake single, "Now" encapsulates these musings with modern Western-inspired guitar licks and echoing vocals ruminating on the concept of time with lyrics like "Moment's already passed" and "I can only think of the future". It all connects to his philosophy of " Yesterday is already gone and tomorrow may never come"- creating music that attempts to be present rather than nostalgic. The latter half of the album slows down ever so slightly, with ballads like "Passageway" and "Sunday" awash with instrumental tranquility. Every song on Now feels like a culmination of a lifetime of lessons. Not one feels out of place or forced in order to fill a space. Every hook, every chord, every lustful synth has been arranged with impassioned vigour, fulfilling Cormack's original vision for his debut album of recording songs that would thrive in a live setting. It took five years, but just like that age old idiom says: Good things come to those who wait.
Catch Jesse Mac Cormack on his tour in the U.S. Canada and Europe this summer. Purchase tickets here.