By Alix Bruch
CALGARY – “I just love good lyrics,” says Grant Davidson, the man behind the musical venture known as Slow Leaves.
Sung against a pleasant backdrop of nostalgic country-folk, Davidson’s words are sincere and honest. But if you are looking for a happy tune, the Winnipeg Native is not going to give it to you. Though sprinkled with optimistic undertones, Davidson’s song writing leans into ideas of impermanence and imperfection. Listeners are lead into the depths of vulnerability, stripping humanity to its bare bones.
“I’m getting older and time’s passing by and someday I’m going to die. Hate to be blunt, but that’s a thought that has really dominated my writing process. And so with almost every song, I’m sort of trying to put a context around what it’s like to be alive and in my body – that’s what I’m after. I’m just trying to write something that makes sense about what I’m feeling, and distilling those thoughts into something that I can look at and be like ‘yeah that’s honest’. I don’t write a lot of happy songs.”
Even though we are speaking over the phone, it isn’t difficult to imagine Davidson smirking as he states the obvious about his music. Known for his dry sense of humour and banter on stage, Davidson will have you laughing moments after he had you reaching for the tissue box. It is not entirely uncommon to leave one of his shows confused as to whether you had a great time or if you need to go straight home and question the intricacies of life. He will be the first to admit that not everyone will connect with his music.
“I think in very broad terms there are two different types of art and entertainment seekers. A lot of people want distraction, and I think that’s totally fine, but then there are people who want to look at things face on. The books I read, the movies I watch, the music I listen to, and the stuff I’m interested in is that kind of stuff – the people who take it head on. And I understand that lots of people don’t want to think about that stuff. Anybody that thinks about their own mortality, like actively thinks about it, will get something out of my music. If they don’t want to think about it, then they might not like it.”
Davidson’s latest record, Enough About Me, marks his fifth studio album and second under the moniker Slow Leaves. It was also the first album he produced himself, offering a glimpse into what comes out when no one else is around. Davidson emphasizes he is proud of his work, but remains self-conscious and hyper-aware of every detail in the music he creates. The soft-spoken wordsmith confesses it never really gets easier.
“Every album I make has a certain compromise, and I think that’s just the nature of taking an idea which has infinite possibilities and constricting it into a finished product. I definitely notice a pattern.
With each album, I naively feel like I’ve finally got it…and then of course the nature of life is that you get older and you realize no, I didn’t get it. I think I can hopefully just pretend to be wise enough to know that you can’t always trust that feeling.”
Although profusely insisting he is not a poet, it is difficult to find another noun for someone who loves words as much as Davidson does. But perhaps it is his reluctance to be identified as anything but himself that contributes to the candor of his music.
“I don’t think I’d still be writing songs if I wasn’t confident that I was writing good lyrics,” says Davidson. “I wouldn’t be able to sing them.”
Slow Leaves will be performing at the Ironwood Stage and Grill on April 26.Enough About Me, Ironwood Stage and Grill, Slow Leaves