In February of 2019, you know, when life was still reasonably normal, I walked into Boise’s High Note Café. At the bar sat Jared Putnam, the mind behind The March Divide. We passed the time conversing about his years of crafting his music, seemingly endless miles of touring, as well as where he came from and where he is headed. While this makes for a great story in and of itself, what transpired next is what was most remarkable. Putnam slid the stool back, grabbed his acoustic guitar, and stepped to the mic. The next (honestly time kind of disappeared for the evening) however long turned me from a fan of his sound to a life-long supporter.
Now, the reason for that profound shift in admiration and appreciation is available for all in the form of The March Divide’s latest release ALIVE!
Similar to the 1975 release from KISS, sans the rock, makeup, backing band, style of music, and large crowd, ALIVE! (exclamation point and all) becomes Putnam’s answer to everyone who has seen him live and asked when he’ll complete a live album. The ten-track release spans his various releases, with a few covers that add that notable March Divide flair to some great more familiar songs. Solo acoustic renditions of tracks from The March Divide albums +1, Saturdays, Distractions: Vol. 1, Distractions: Vol. 2, and Anticipation Pops all present themselves in the same intimate exposure I experienced and revered so greatly that cold evening over a year and a half ago.
The timing of the record is couldn’t be better. While live shows are virtually non-existent, The March Divide takes us to the warmth of a live setting with quality sound and even some crowd banter for good measure. Putnam explains “It’s an incredibly depressing project, to mix a live record during the apocalypse” but adds “because of everything going on, I really wanted to release something that felt as much like an actual show as possible.” Well sir, you have succeeded.
Live albums are a dangerous undertaking. From potential sound issues, to that drunk attendee in the front row who claps on 1 and 3 while yelling “whoop” at the most inopportune times. The March Divide’s ALIVE! exists without such distractions. Instead, it becomes the live album we didn’t know we all needed so badly right now. If you don’t get that, then perhaps you should see The March Divide live and understand why. Until then, check out ALIVE! on Slow Start Records August 28, 2020.