By B. Simm
CALGARY – “A lot of albums these days, in my opinion, sound like one long song, and it’s hard to distinguish between songs.”
Calvin Love doesn’t shy away from expressing himself so it grabs attention. An early video with him portrayed as a gregarious man-about-town full of street swagger takes an abrupt turn when he puts on a ridiculous party-prop chicken head setting off the theatrics. While that video and others like it from years before don’t represent Love as he is now, there’s no denying, he’s still an artist that delivers absolute distinction.
Highway Dancer, his latest release, is a notable transition that moves from the ‘80s synth groove he’s often played with to a far more rootsy sound bringing in acoustic guitars, twangy stratosphere solos, the crack of a real snare and even a jazzy, sultry saxophone. It’s a well-rounded recording, diverse and yet distinctly Calvin Love.
“I made the album I wanted to hear,” states Love. “I wanted to make Highway Dancer very dynamic. Instrumental soundtrack segues, rock song, country song, folk song, ‘80s synth ballad etc., etc. All held together by the one consistent evolving instrument, my vocal.”
With a fondness for melody, groove and catchy hooks, all of which pour out of the ‘80s, Love acknowledges Prince, The Cars, Roxy Music and even Whitney Houston are on his old school playlist. No doubt Brian Ferry looms large. At the same time, he’s a connoisseur of musical tastes that are shaped by the profound, personal DIY stamp he lays down.
“I listen to all kinds of music, so naturally my influences come from many difference styles. The DIY approach has always been in me. I have a vision and I work to crystallize this vision into something uniquely mine. At the end of the day it’s up to me to make it all happen.”