Tuesday, May 24, 2011


He's one of those songwriters that songwriters love.  You know, like only other poets can really appreciate the best poet in town.  They hear past the lack of commercial hope.  They ignore the nasal-Lou Reed vocal quality, or even love it for it's reality.  They hear their favourite style of music in the songs, since they are so bare-boned.  They could be turned into the best punk or the smartest country songs (see Elvis Has Left The Building here, which, seriously, could fit both styles).  They could even be hits in the hands of the more polished artist, like Mary Chapin Carpenter did for Lucinda Williams' Passionate Kisses.  That's the level we're talking here, Kyp Harness is a Toronto version of a Lucinda Williams or a Nick Cave, certainly not the wider public's style, but the kind that commands the attention of his peers.

Ron Sexsmith is perhaps his greatest champion, which says a lot since Sexsmith himself is considered the songwriter's songwriter.  Harness is much more obscure, and you can hear where Sexsmith has borrowed a bit of his peer's phrasing, his vocal style, and his fearlessness.  Umm, say that again, BM?  What's so scary about writing songs?  Well, when you have the tools, and you know what will work, what's a good career move, and instead choose to let the art win, that's fearless.  Harness, like Sexsmith, will not allow the marketplace to dictate how the songs are written, and the end result.  And truth be told, he'd be better off putting his hopes in his Mortimer the Slug web comic (mortimertheslug.com) than continuing this nine-album, completely indie career.  Except that, of course, he's a stone genius.

How do you end a groovin' little rocker where you proclaim "I'm diggin' your vibe"?  Why, with the ultimate, biggest statement, "all the way to infinity."  Want a metaphor for life?  There's "sometimes you're the passenger and sometimes you're the driver."  Want great lines?  Every one of the ten songs here is full of them, but my favourite right now is "Pick me up baby/I wanna touch the sky."  It seems so simple, but somebody has to find these words.  Harness finds an uncommon and unfair amount of them.

No comments:

Post a Comment