The March Divide
Jared Putnam is one of the most prolific songwriters in Texas, and he earns that distinction in his second act.
Having already flirted with the danger of major labels when his young band The Conversation was a national next thing, in the past decade as The March Divide, Putnam has basically done it all on his own, self-releasing a barrage of singles, EPs, and albums at a seemingly non-stop pace during that time.
cinq – his fifth album (Slow Start Records, April 23rd) – was conceived as a full-length, but has mostly been released throughout the pandemic as a series of singles, with the last two arriving surrounding the album’s release date.
With Putnam’s successful regional touring business at a stand-still, he recorded cinq at home, sending tracks to friends to add bass and drums, and tending to his expanding business managing social media ad campaigns for other artists, a skill he learned while systematically building a fanbase for The March Divide that has sustained him, even during lockdown.
"I am very much looking forward to forgetting and moving on from the wrath of what still might end my career," Putnam says, voicing the frustration of many musicians with vulnerable cottage businesses on the line. "Recording these songs was something I was able to do to get my mind off of all that. What came out is a real hodgepodge of who I am as a writer."
This "hodgepodge" is a boon for fans of Putnam’s songs that are personal, but always safe-effacing, and with a sly humor underneath their rich production and get-to-the-point style. Think a slightly less angular Spoon with work boots on instead of pointy tips (but not too worn out!)
"I was able to revisit my rock roots in a meaningful way on this record," Putnam explains, "but still expand and experiment with the acoustic-based pop ideas I’ve been obsessed with the last few years. I even incorporated some of the hokey melodies that have popped into my head lately by finally taking the time to go back and listen to all the ridiculous phone recordings I’ve made of them."
One of these "hokey" melodies, that a less humble musician might just call "catchy," became one of cinq’s two yet-to-be-released singles, “The Funk That You’re In,” a number Putnam thought would remain in his phone graveyard.
"That’s usually where my ideas go to die! It’s not that I don’t like them," he says, "I usually just forget about them, but like everyone else, I had a lot of time to burn last year. Once I picked up my guitar and started messing with the idea, the whole song just kinda fell out of me. The kazoo solo is probably worth mentioning."
On the other side of the conceptual spectrum from “Funk That You’re In,” is what will be cinq’s final single and video. “I Believe,” is one of the most personal songs in Putnam’s catalog.
Written in a stream of consciousness style, and backed up by a promise to himself not to change the words, Putnam plans to work in this style more going forward.
"It’s pretty satisfying to just say what you wanna say, without worrying about how cool it sounds," he confesses.
cinq, the fifth full-length album by The March Divide arrives on April 23rd via Slow Start Records.