The Story Behind The Record
The Jackknife Letters, so named for my addiction to the tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s inimitable sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. During the early stages of recording I happened upon a curbside copy of the complete works of the master detective. It became my constant companion and romantic respite from the creative madness of writing, arranging and performing all the parts (save Alex McMaster’s cello) for this record. I came to find out that, in the organized chaos of his rooms in Baker Street, Holmes kept a stack of unanswered correspondence pinned to the mantlepiece with his pocketknife.
Along with the musical throes, we had just welcomed our firstborn. Our lives were changing. My wife and I were adapting to the new groove of nurturing a human life outside of our own. The experience inspired me to both let go of and dig deeper into my craft. It was a crazy time. The insanity of prolonged sleeplessness, a day gig to make ends meet, nights of recording, writing and re-writing, to fall bleary-eyed into bed for a few winks, then the dawn creeping through the cracks again.
On a previous project, I had spent some time in Nashville learning from some serious cats. When the time to arrange the record came, I felt the itch to dive in and see what I could cook up in solitude. This was good, and bad. Good at the start, though after a time I hit the wall and went a wee bit off. I think we need others to inspire and mirror our process at some point in any creative situation. I needed a break. To gain some perspective. To let the songs be.
Sessions at Toronto West Sound, with my brethren Cory Blackburn, helped cure the lonesome bug. The recordings were allowed some space. I found a new voice, both in my singing and what was coming through my hands and out of my guitar. Mixing and mastering were intense, fertile and amazing.
Friends ask me how I feel about the completion of the record. I answer that this time what’s happened on the outside feels closest to how I feel on the inside. Like Sherlock’s stack, these songs, once unanswered, are my jackknife letters.