The Norman Transcript

N-town reviews

April 12, 2013

Music review: The March Divide is impressive, rich

NORMAN —

Album Name: Music for Film (2013, Dead Letter Records)

Musician: The March Divide

Synopsis: Debut album for Jared Putnam’s The March Divide ready for the big screen

Why you should listen: Jared Putnam’s first band was at age 15 in hard rock outfit Mojo. That was in El Paso, Texas, and now he’s based in San Antonio and around 20 years older. Putnam formed a band called Level in 1999 with a name change to The Conversation in 2002. “Music for Film” is the freshman disc for his latest project The March Divide.

He’s still playing with former band mates Jorge Ramirez on bass and percussionist Mike Hernandez. Putnam has wisely added singer Laura Wheeler to the mix. Their vocal harmony together is tight as bark on a tree. Any of the album’s 10 tracks really could be for a cinema score. They’re well-crafted pop tunes with emotional intensity and fine musicianship. It’s not Americana music so much as solidly American music.

Putnam’s success has been in the southwest but he doesn’t sound Texan. He’s reminiscent of Graham Colton, someone also with his roots in this part of the world, but who has acquired California sheen.

In the first song “Still Analog” Putnam pledges there will be no more songs “…About all the girls I hate.” That’s no small promise from a guy whose influences include The Promise Ring and Elliott Smith. Two tracks later “I’m Unconvinced” might leave you unconvinced. It’s an anthem to leaving mistakes and false starts in the past but also about needing help from an indifferent someone. This one’s a Lifetime Movie Network soundtrack.

Wheeler’s lead vocals on “Pick Me Up” demonstrate impressive range and rich musicality. Wouldn’t be surprised if she has country projects on her resume although there’s not a hint of hayseed in her voice here. Wheeler and Putnam forge their voices into one strong alloy on “Done Waiting.” It’s pop radio-ready. Make a tub of buttered popcorn and give Music for Film a listen.

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