By Andrew R. Mott
CALGARY — Second Sight, the fourth studio LP from Canada’s decade-old indie rock band Hey Rosetta!, takes a magnifying glass to the beautiful cracks in mankind’s process of loss and recovery, growth and transition, struggle and triumph. The LP’s “Promise” sits as a prime example of the internal and external pressures of judgement that form a major role in accepting purpose, culminating in a final verse with an unmistakable simplicity of prose.
“I’m waking up/ pull me from my sheets in the dark as if in a dream/ lifting off let me feel it shift in my blood/ let me feel like I’m rising up out of all the ashes and dust/ out of all the past that’s done/ I don’t need what’s long dead and gone/ Man I got promise, I got promise…” croons the band’s creative lead and visionary. On Second Sight, Baker is caught in an illusion of trying to walk the path he’s chosen.
“I don’t think anyone is 100 per cent anything, artist or otherwise,” he says.
“I think writing songs and making art is a process and you can try and commit to the process as best you can, and commit to being honest and earnest and real, but I don’t think you ever really get there completely – I think the best you can do is make for it, try to keep it in view.”
Baker’s contradiction may just be a set of blinders to keep him perpetually moving forwards towards the moment of “becoming” an artist, fulfilling his “promise.”
“I just have always tried and write about things I find important, things worth yelling over a din of instrumentation… I figure if you feel it moving you as you sing it or experience it, then you’re on the right track.”
He’s definitely on the right path and his process of “trying without ever getting there” to constantly express ideas of importance that connect him with a moving experience makes for music that is complete and honest to the process. Second Sight is definitively a product of that process. It features an example of Japanese Kintsukuroi, an art form that mends broken pottery with gold, on the cover. This beautiful process represents so much more than just the album’s lead single of the same name: it’s the subconscious signifier of the greater process of the album’s creation. Indeed, the album was recorded in Montreal, and for it Hey Rosetta! had the chance to break everything apart and rebuild it, courtesy of both the producer Marcus Paquin, and the space itself.
“We had spent a lot of time rehearsing these tunes, but there was a lot of stuff changed drastically when we were in there,” explains bassist Josh Ward of the recording process that occurred at MixArt Studios back in 2014.
“Maybe we had a little bit more time and a little bit more freedom to experiment and maybe to not be so precious about what we thought the songs were, allowing them more space to become something else,” says Ward of the recording experience.
“Even if we did have them basically complete in our own minds we always kind of had to be ready that he [producer Marcus Paquin] would say, ‘Let’s change it all completely and start from scratch…’ and maybe it’s obvious for most people, but for me it seemed like the first time that I really acknowledged the studio as almost like a member of the band. It’s a really strange and powerful force.”
Accordingly, Second Sight is a journey filled with strange warmth that spills over with sombre reflection, enfolding layers of delicately placed elements and masterful transitions. Baker is steeped in a wash of the band’s refined instrumentation, pushing and pulling the medium with a cadence and inflection that can only be his.
Catch Hey Rosetta! with Yukon Blonde in Edmonton at the Winspear Centre on November 9th, at The Jack Singer Concert Hall in Calgary on November 10th, at the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon on November 11th, or at the Garrick Centre in Winnipeg on November 12th.AB, Alberta, Broadway Theatre, Hey Rosetta!, Jack Singer Concert Hall, The Garrick, Winspear Centre