Kyp Harness / Kyp Harness
Release Date: Oct. 19, 2018
Produced by Kyp Harness (with Joao Carvalho)
at Revolution Recording, Toronto
All songs by Kyp Harness (MAPL / SOCAN)
Tania Gill – piano / Brodie West – sax
Sean Lancaric – drums / Mike Smith – bass
If you aren’t familiar with Kyp Harness, then you have been missing out on one of the most powerful bodies of work any Canadian singer-songwriter has amassed over the past 25 years. With each new release, media outlets from coast to coast have hailed him as a genius, and his songs have been covered by Ron Sexsmith, Daniel Lanois and Mary Margaret O’Hara, among others. Sexsmith has called Harness, “my favourite songwriter… it’s his lyrics that set him apart. They are every bit as powerful as the best Dylan, Cohen and Lennon combined.”
That brilliance is fully displayed once again on Harness’ fourteenth album, simply entitled Kyp Harness, a collection of nine timely observations of our fraying society, rendered with all the wit, wisdom and just the right amount of folk-rocking flair that Harness’ die-hard fans have come to expect. The album’s crackling energy is the result of the tracks being laid down during a single all-day session at Toronto’s Revolution Recording, with Joao Carvalho capturing the chemistry generated by Harness, the renowned pianist Tania Gill, bassist Mike Smith and drummer Sean Lancaric.
Standouts on Kyp Harness such as “Talking To Myself,” “Angel Mine” and “Insomniac Lullaby” are sure to have some of that effect on listeners, but it’s on “Hard Life,” “The Sea Monster” and “Jungle Out There” that Harness unflinchingly illuminates the dysfunction at the heart of our society.
It’s hard to discount the weight of experience on Harness’ current work, but his worldview hasn’t changed that drastically since he released his debut album, Nowhere Fast, in 1991. Back then he was part a unique community of Toronto songwriters that included Sexsmith, Bob Snider and Bob Wiseman (soon to leave Blue Rodeo) whose approach foreshadowed today’s “alt-folk” scene. Harness was (and continues to be) perhaps its most prolific member, with a string of albums from 1992’s God’s Footstool, to 1998’s pop-flavoured Houdini In Reverse, to 2002’s epic collaboration with The Dinner Is Ruined, The Floating World, consistently demonstrating his musical versatility.
However, the goal of every true artist is to boil their creativity down to its essence, so it’s hardly a surprise that at this point in his evolution Kyp Harness has chosen to present his new album boldly or humbly (take your pick) under his own name. It’s a name that deserves to be spoken with the same reverence as Canada’s other great songwriters.