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Slow Leaves: Life Through the Rearview

Sunday 20th, August 2017 / 12:31
By Julijana Capone

Grant Davidson is the driving force and heart behind Slow Leaves.
Photo by Christopher Dyck.

WINNIPEG – “I’m kind of obsessed with thinking about the past and thinking about time,” says singer-songwriter Grant Davidson (a.k.a. Slow Leaves), ruminating about the songs featured on his latest release, Enough About Me, out independently on August 11.

With his third album, Davidson returns to what he knows best, finding poetry in ordinary things and his own deep introspections. As the artist confesses, he likes to live, and write about, his life as though he’s looking back on it through a rearview mirror.

“It’s sort of like reverse nostalgia,” he explains. “I’m always thinking about the end of my life. Not in a morbid way, I’m just conscious of my own mortality…I’d love to be lucky enough to be an old person and to have warm, nostalgic thoughts when I look back on my life and not have regrets…I don’t really live in the moment…I’m always living in a different time.”

On Enough About Me, Slow Leaves’ inward lyricism is backed by subtle arrangements—pared down but never sleepy—and ‘70s country-folk signatures interspersed with moments of straightforward humanity (hear: “Love and Honesty and Kindness”).

Indeed, these tunes are as soothing and relaxed as they are personal and heartfelt.

Further adding to that sense of intimacy is the video for “Enough About Me,” filmed in collaboration with his seven-year-old son, Eaton.

The self-referential title track is an easy-going opener about Davidson’s “inherent selfishness,” featuring a rich, percussive bass tone that permeates much of the record. It’s a vintage quality that Davidson says he was definitely chasing.

“One of my favourite albums is a Lee Hazlewood record called Requiem for an Almost Lady,” he says of the 1971 release. “It’s very simple production, and the whole thing is kind of driven by this bass. I was after that.”

While the album was born primarily out of demos made by Davidson in his basement, some frequent collaborators make contributions to the final product, including Jason Tait (Bahamas, Weakerthans), Julie Penner (Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think), Rej Ricard (The Telepathic Butterflies, The Wind-Ups), and Rusty Matyas (Imaginary Cities, Sheepdogs).

Fans of Slow Leaves’ 2014 critically acclaimed record, Beauty is So Common may recall Matyas’ involvement as producer on that effort, though this time around Davidson took on production duties for the first time. “A lot of the ideas came from me just sitting in my basement trying things out,” he says. “For good or for ill, a lot of it was created in isolation.”

Davidson acknowledges his collaborators for helping to bring a different energy and forward-momentum to his patient tunes. Yet at their core, his songs remain a very insular affair.

“I write from an interior place,” he notes. “I’m always trying to dig deeper into myself—to a fault—and it’s not something I’m proud of. It sort of makes me a little self-absorbed…I tend to be very inward-focused, rather than writing about the things I see around me. I guess it’s about how I see myself within all of that.”

Slow Leaves performs August 30 at the Needle Vinyl Tavern (Edmonton), September 1 at the Ironwood Stage and Grill (Calgary), September 2 at Waynestock (Wayne, AB), September 15-16 at Harvest Moon Festival (Clearwater, MB), and September 28 at the West End Cultural Centre (Winnipeg). To purchase Enough About Me, head to slowleaves.com.

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