I’m in Toronto for the remainder of the week attending a conference for the the Institute for Learning and Development and participating in such riveting sounding seminars like “The Big Picture of Adaptive Learning”, “Scaling Leadership Development” and “ROI: Ensuring Successful Leadership Proposals”. Still awake? Anyway, upon getting back to the Renaissance Hotel at the Rogers Center (a pretty swanky place actually) I was ready to give the ‘ol muscles a bit of working out after 6 hours of sedentary boredom. My planned soundtrack was the ‘Feathers & Fishhooks‘ album by a guy named Rayland Baxter.
It was originally suggested I check out Rayland by my friend Michelle who also first recommended I check out Shakey Graves, for whom, I believe Rayland had opened for when they played in Jasper, British Columbia. I’ve literally sat on actually listening to this album for nearly 6 months because, well, I have no excuse really. There was always someone or something else to listen to. But then Rayland’s name came up again by Kalle Mattson when we got to discussing music after his performance at The Sanctuary weeks ago so, yeah, now I definitely had to check him out. So this evening is that occasion…finally.
A little background research quickly informed me that Rayland is a promising singer/songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee who has also toured with the likes of The Civil Wars and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. This then is his debut album released in 2012 and it’s good…it’s very good. I’m genuinely sorry that it took so long to get around to listening to it.
Rayland himself says this about the album:
“Making this record was effortless. The songs formed themselves; we started with no goals in mind other than making music that myself and everyone around me was moved by. It’s an emotional record that puts into words what I, or anyone longing for change, could go through.”
Okay, I can dig that.
Such standout songs include the romantic ‘Olivia’ and its fluid six-string pickin’, the deeply felt ‘Marjoria’ and its haunting pedal steel and mellow accordion, and the carnival-like ‘Willy’s Song‘, is a rollicking Americana tune engrossing in a terrific narrative and what sounds like a blend of traditional Celtic music and some far east vibe. Oh, and ‘The Woman For Me‘ is a real modern day troubadour classic. In addition, there are other songs that can easily be considered standouts, like ‘Driveway Melody’ and its marriage of catchy folk and jaunty rock n’roll, the gorgeous folk composition that is ‘Tell Me Lover‘, as well as ‘Hoot Owl’, with its bare-bones instrumentation and somber vocals. The real magnus opus however is the final track on the album, ‘Willow’, which is easily my favorite. I will definitely be hunting out more music from Rayland for sure.
So in short, I’m sorry Michelle. I’ll never doubt you again and promise not to wait until someone famous also happens to mention something that you’ve recommended I listen to.
P.S.> A special note here should be made to document the amazing house made jerky with bacon jam I had later at Bar Hop. That shit was amazing! Of course, I had to ask the hotel concierge in the morning to send up a priest to exorcise the evil fart demon that had inhabited my hotel room overnight making it smell like Dracula’s tomb. You win some, you loose some.