March: March

Use Of Ashes and Mercy Giants member Maarten Scherrenburg steps out with a debut under the March name that spotlights his folk-based, singer-songwriter leanings. The vibe throughout is earnest and intimate, with Scherrenburg exposing his vulnerable side in winsome ballads like “Wintertime,” “Try Not To Hide,” and “You Left.” He plays all of the instruments—guitars, bass, drums, piano, organ, banjo, and vibraphone, primarily—and adds rough-hewn vocals to almost all nine of the album's songs.

As “When I See You,” the plaintive, blues-tinged ballad that opens the album makes clear, March is generally low-key and laid-back, despite the presence of a couple of animated exceptions,“Structures and Layers” and the slightly funky groove “Go To Sleep” (which exudes a jazz-tinged momentum that belies its title). A slightly trippy quality seeps into a few of the songs too (e.g., “Think About Yourself Girl”) when electric guitar episodes surface that retain a trace of psychedelic dreaminess. March is occasionally distinguished by subtle dabs of instrumental colour (vibes and banjo in “You Left,” for example) as well as some instrumental passages that are particularly lovely (the mid-song guitar break in “When I See You”). A few electronic touches surface conspicuously during “Structures and Layers” in the form of skittering drums and a few vocal hiccups and in the collage interlude “You Know That I Want You,” but Scherrenburg largely plays it straight on the forty-minute album and stays true to the material's acoustic folk spirit.

April 2011