By Colleen Rennison
VANCOUVER — I walk into Tavis Triance’s jam spot wishing I’d grabbed a beer at the Princeton as I passed it, but motivated by what lies inside Pandora’s Box Studios, I wade into the whirlpool of music circulating the hallway. Almost immediately, Triance’s trebley voice cuts through the cock rock and I lean and loiter at the door outside of Room 18, happily listening and not wanting to interrupt the happenings inside. This one is a heavy guitar-driven thumper with some nice grit on his almost impossibly high vocals. “Where does it go?” I thought to myself. “Up there in his friggin’ skull? Somewhere in the frontal lobe? Jesus.”
It’s a voice we’ve heard before as the frontman for Vancouver’s Spoon River, their 2015 effort, The New Sun Ahhhh Hotel, is an exceptionally well-received psych-tinged rock ‘n’ roll record named after the historic Chinatown rooming house. This time though, accompanied again by his wife Rachel Horst, it’s apparent that Tavis Triance and The Natural Way is Triance’s voice, but perhaps with “a little less exuberance and more introspection” than the one we’re accustomed to hearing from the curiously handsome school teacher. “I set out to write a solo album primarily on keys, which I had been re-learning to play. I also set out to write a solo album in the space I thought I’d have while Spoon River were on hiatus and having children and such. We had our second child on the way and I sort of felt like I had better really work to get something established before she arrived or there was the possibility that things would fall by the wayside.”
And while more little folks meant less time to indulge creatively, “It amplified the pitch of the events that were happening in my life.” This seems to have given way to a sound that is both sophisticated and accessible, bringing to mind the golden mood of early ’70s piano singer-songwriters like Todd Rundgren and Carole King. It’s classic, sometimes deliciously retro, but still with a modern edge, retaining the cutting lyrics of an articulate man in the throws of the human condition.
Max Grant (who’s drumming for the outfit) texts me to come to Room 18, unbeknownst to the fact that I’m already creeping outside the door, cheek pressed against the wall, swaying with my eyes closed like an asshole. I savour the thought of being a stranger and coming across this rare treat. Taking advantage of my stolen moment, I let them move onto a new one undisturbed, this time its all piano, soul and heartstrings…
Catch Tavis Triance and The Natural Way performing at the Heatley on July 29.BC, British Columbia, Heatley, Tavis Triance and The Natural Way