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“I think I’m always trying to get closer and closer to the source, like the way old blues albums were made—there’s no production; all the emotion you’re hearing is just the players, the room, the song. It’s almost like a photograph as opposed to a painting, where if you don’t like the color of a certain flower in the garden, you change it. I want you to hear every word I’m saying, and take in the song and make it your own.”
The fifth album from Bahamas, Sad Hunk takes its title from a nickname bestowed upon the artist by his wife in reaction to how he was being portrayed in the media, “Something like ten years ago I did a photo shoot, and in all the pictures they sent back, I was lit half in shadow, looking all brooding and mysterious,” says the award-winning singer/songwriter otherwise known as Afie Jurvanen. “When my wife saw the photos the first thing she said was, ‘Whoa—sad hunk,’ and after that it became sort of a joke among our friends.”
It’s a fitting backstory for an album that embodies an undaunted self-awareness, each track graced with Bahamas’s wry wit and unabashed heart. In sketching Sad Hunk’s delicately composed batch of songs, Jurvanen drew much inspiration from his home life and all the joy and struggle that comes with building a family together. Having recently moved to the coast of Nova Scotia with his wife and two daughters, the Ontario native inevitably imbued the album with his surroundings, even while committing to a sometimes-painful sincerity in his lyrics. “I definitely use music to work things out for myself,” says Jurvanen. “It’s possible I’m too open sometimes, but I really don’t know any better way to be. If I tried to just go write fun songs about hot dogs or something, I’d probably fail.”
2018’s Grammy-Nominated Earthtones saw Bahamas joining forces with bassist Pino Palladino and drummer James Gadson (the rhythm section behind D’Angelo’s Black Messiah), and even merging them with his stable of longtime heavyweight musicians on Kimmel. Jurvanen created Sad Hunk with those same collaborators - Christine Bougie (guitar), Don Kerr (drums), Mike O’Brien (bass), and Felicity Williams (vocals). Recorded by longtime producer and multi-Grammy nominee Robbie Lackritz (Feist, Jack Johnson, Robbie Robertson), Sad Hunk is the next step in Afie’ virtuosic signature style of restraint as a guitarist. It also features the graceful guitar work of Sam Weber, a virtually unknown musician whom Jurvanen discovered on YouTube. “I sort of had a musical crush on Sam, so I invited him to open for us a few years ago and we ended up hitting it off,” says Jurvanen. “I asked him to come out and record with us without even knowing what I wanted him to play, which is generally how I like to work with people: I always think it’s so much more interesting when you let them find their way into the songs on their own.”
Start Time: 8:00
Emerging from the bright, wide skies of Canada's west coast, Sam Weber has spent the last decade variously honing his craft as a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, a road that crests a scenic new mountain with the arrival of his stunning new album, Everything Comes True (out Oct 25, 2019 on Sonic Unyon Records). Expanding on the ambitious canvas of his recent New Agile Freedom EP, Weber has delivered his most compelling release to date, one stacked with remarkable songs filled out by a remarkable range of talents whose gifts complement the artist'ss own considerable strengths.
"This collection of songs is the most personal I've put my name on, but this project feels like my least independent,” says Weber. "In crucial moments, the people I collaborated on this saw my truth clearer than I did." He reserves special thanks for L.A. producer Tyler Chester, who cared for the songs as if they were his own, remaining intensely mindful of the album's finer details as well as the fullness of its scope, despite a tight session window. “Much of this record was done in a short period of time," Weber admits. “I'll spend the rest of my life trying to understand how deeply he shaped these performances without touching them."
Industry insiders know Chester not just for his diverse production credits but also his work as a steady session hand on albums and tours by Joan Baez, Jackson Browne, Andrew Bird, Amy Helm, Hayes Carll, Christina Aguilera, and many others. Those heady connections are in addition to the album's heavyweight cast of session players, a lineup that included Dylan Day (Jenny Lewis), pedal steel player Rich Hinman (St. Vincent, Sara Bareilles, Rosanne Cash, Marc Cohn, Cyndi Lauper), guitarist-vocalist Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman, Ani DiFranco, Allen Toussaint), bassist Bob Glaub (John Lennon, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, CSNY, John Fogerty, Leonard Cohen), percussionist Justin Stanley (Prince, Beck, Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney, Mark Ronson, Robbie Robertson, Willie Nelson), trombonist Elizabeth Lea (Tedeschi Trucks Band, Dirty Projectors, Vampire Weekend) and trumpet player Todd Simon (Solange, Kelis, Antibalas, Kamasi Washington, Ziggy Marley, TV on the Radio). The album's stellar roster of personnel also includes Grammy-winning mastering engineer Gavin Lurssen, and of course Weber's long-time drummer and collaborator Marshall Wildman.
For all that star power, Weber found magic in unexpected places. The album's sparkling lead single “It's All Happening,” for example, was written in Chester’s garage in Glassell Park, byproduct of a gear experiment. “I’d been experimenting with this stereo guitar setup and the song started as a syncopated guitar part that flickers left to right,“ Weber notes. “It really made me feel like the world was moving and buzzing – like things were happening.” The signature phrase is a mantra often called up Weber's friend, collaborator and labelmate Terra Lightfoot. Passed between pals as a lighthearted in-joke, it began to take on an unexpectedly cosmic flavour. "It sort of means everything, all of it, is unfolding as it should,” Weber says. “The lyrics in the song refer to the narrator persevering in the face of adversity and accepting that everything is it motion and happening as it should.”
Weber describes the album's title track, written at home on his parents‘ piano, as being something of a snapshot of his past, present and future. “I expect things will happen and I see them come to fruition in unexpected ways,” he says. “I’m trying to say that good things and bad things will happen, but not because they’re good or bad, but because they’re true; and the truth always comes out in the end. No matter how tragic or joyous.”
That gently philosophical bent shows up throughout the album, reflected in lyrics that offer hard-earned wisdom as well as cinematic windows into lives, loves, and relationships unwound or made more profound by circumstance and the pull of the road. At once dreamlike and diaristic, the songs reflect Weber's own journey, both personal and professional. As a moment in time and a statement of purpose, Everything Comes True captures an artist speaking with uncommon clarity and unfaltering dedication to his craft.
A perceptive and compelling singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist in the vein of Jackson Browne, The Band, The Wood Brothers and Gillian Welch, Weber has been touring independently and internationally with his band since 2013 — the year after he scored a glowing profile in Guitar Player magazine. Years spent refining songs at home in North Saanich, BC, working in studios in Los Angeles, CA and gigging relentlessly across Canada and throughout the Western U.S. have honed Weber’s craft to a fine point. That journey might have reached a remarkable new place, but to hear Weber tell it, it's never really over.
“In every art form there are secrets and tricks of the trade,“ says Weber. “The ones I obsess over are about the delivery of a song. Some people figure out how to do their thing and get up and play their songs for people, get off stage and switch their brain off. Other people just keep asking questions and try to sink deeper into their thing — they keep asking why and chipping away trying to get to the true core of it. I’ve had lots of mentors in my life and I’m always looking for answers from those people to these big questions.”