Happy release day to The Wanted’s new album Strange Flight!
Produced by Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies, his trademark sonic approach emphasizes The Wanted’s live group chemistry, created by the core trio of Natalie Rogers (vocals, guitar), Jeff Rogers (vocals, guitar) and Richard Henderson (lap steel guitar, vocals), along with bassist Dan Mock and drummer Kyle Sullivan—borrowed from Jerry Leger’s band The Situation.
The Wanted’s honest and gritty approach to roots music has greatly evolved since they released their self-titled debut album in 2010. That record has since tallied close to a half-million Spotify streams while earning them appearances at the Mariposa Folk Festival, Folk Alliance International, and the Canadian Country Music Awards.
However, the essence of their sound has remained consistent since The Wanted formed in 2003 out of informal songwriter gatherings centred around Toronto clubs the Cameron House and the Tranzac. They bonded over a shared love of classic roots artists such as Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt, and that connection continues to guide them nearly 20 years later.
Get The Wanted’s Strange Flight from Bandcamp, and check out their latest video for the track “Stand Up.”
Mike Boguski, keyboardist for Canadian roots rock institution Blue Rodeo, continues to explore new musical directions on his latest release, the single “December.” Produced by Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies—also on guitar—and featuring a reunion of the original Blue Rodeo rhythm section, bassist Bazil Donovan and drummer Cleave Anderson, the seven-minute “December” offers brooding minimalism reminiscent of Miles Davis’s groundbreaking early forays into electric music in the late 1960s.
The project comes on the heels of Boguski’s first solo album, Blues For The Penitent, a stunning display of his improvisational skills on acoustic piano. Having spent the better part of the past two decades playing with a wide range of artists along with Blue Rodeo, Boguski is now blazing his own distinctive musical path. Just don’t call it jazz.
For his third full-length effort, Late Mornings, Toronto singer/songwriter Craig Robertson turned to Cowboy Junkies co-founder Michael Timmins (no slouch as a songwriter himself) for production assistance, and together with Robertson’s regular cast of players they crafted a dozen songs that cast a light onto dark territory few artists dare tread upon. By choosing detail over confession, Robertson acts more like a guide throughout the album, shifting between scenes populated by characters teetering on the brink—as on the opening track “Drunk In Vegas”—or simply wondering when exactly the world passed them by—as on the heartbreaking “Decker Hollow.”
Late Mornings brims with such description of life’s other side, a skill Robertson has honed over the past six years since he quit a full-time job to solely concentrate on making music. “I had always written songs, but it was always on the edges of my life,” he says. “Now it’s central, something I do every day. My best songs come from real life situations or feelings, so I’m constantly pursuing that muse and jotting down ideas.”
Robertson also notes how his creative evolution is linked to how his band, consisting of guitarist/mandolin player Bob Strome, bassist Jamie Thwaites and drummer James Clark, has gelled in recent years through regular gigging. Indeed, Late Mornings was laid down virtually live at Timmins’ studio The Hangar in only five sessions, with many of the songs being first takes. Robertson later added background vocals, along with lap steel by Andrew James Barker and fiddle by James McKie.
Although Robertson may downplay the narrative aspects of his music, Late Mornings is much like a great short story collection, a work of art that one can become totally immersed in, and reveals new insights each time it’s revisited. With it, Craig Robertson has made an undeniable claim to be mentioned alongside Canada’s best contemporary singer/songwriters.