As I’m gearing up to release Miles We Put Behind in the Fall, I’ve been thinking about how this album is a result of so many musical influences – from local songwriters, to some of the greats from Texas, to some timeless classics.
So I put a playlist together of all of them. I had a lot of fun with this – reminded me of putting together a mix tape – I totally geeked out, painstakingly picking every artist, then every song, then spending too much time on figuring out the order of it. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I did making it.
James McMurtry – Copper Canteen
This guy is just the king of songwriting. I feel like every one of McMurtry’s songs could be a full length motion picture, but he has an ability to do all that in 3 minutes. Nothing on my record comes anywhere close to a James McMurtry song, but it’s something I strive for.
Mariel Buckley – Driving in the Dark
My sister is a big influence in that she’s taken huge steps forward in a short of amount of time, and has worked really hard. Her and Leeroy did a fantastic job on this record, and it inspired and pushed me to take some chances with this record.
Dawes – If I Wanted Someone
I saw these guys live a few years and was completely blown away. They’re such a great band, in how many different musical points they hit on - great musicians, singers, and incredible songwriting. One thing I love about Dawes, is they find a way to have big sound, without distracting from the story being told – which is something I was aiming to do with this record – having more texture sonically, while remaining true to the songwriting.
Jackson Browne – Doctor My Eyes
Before heading to Montreal, I sent my demos out to Howard Bilerman (the producer and engineer). After listening, he got back to me, and said they were reminding him of Jackson Browne. This was another affirming moment that I’d made the right choice – I’d been listening to Jackson Browne at nauseam for quite some time.
Kevin Welch - Millionaire
Kevin was the director of the writing residency at the Banff Centre. That two week period in Banff, as cliché as it might sound, was pretty life changing, in terms of how I approach songwriting. This is just one of many great songs of Kevin’s.
Lyle Lovett – This Old Porch
Anyone who knows me, knows that Lyle is one of my main influences. He is a brilliant writer, and I love that he isn’t defined by one genre, but moves fluidly between styles, all while maintaining his sound. I picked this song because of the incredible imagery. It completely immerses you in the scene of the town he’s talking about. It’s very cinematic, which is something I was trying to do more of in my writing on this record.
Chloe Albert – All I’ve got
Chloe was at the Banff Centre with me, and sat in a couple of demo sessions. Turns out her voice is magic. When I went out Montreal later that year to record with Howard (who I also met at the Banff Centre) – we quickly discovered we needed more Chloe. She’s the secret weapon on this record. This is one of my favourite tunes of hers.
Guy Clark – My Favourite Picture of You
Huge influence on myself and most songwriters I know. This is one of Guy’s later tunes and it captures a beautiful collection of memories, written for his wife shortly after she passed. In order for a song to really touch you, it has to be derived from the more vulnerable side of the writer – and this song illustrates that. Songs like this, inspire me to take more risks with my writing.
Good News – Amy Helm
I saw Amy a couple years ago at Salmon Arm Roots and Blues – and love this rootsy take on a Sam Cooke classic. Sam Cooke rarely leaves our turntable at home – and I think that wound up sinking into my bones a bit, giving this record a bit of a soulful approach. (Or, at least as soulful as a white kid from Alberta’s suburbs could be.)
Nick Lowe – Has She Got a Friend?
Just listen to these lyrics – can it get any more tongue and cheek? To me, Nick Lowe is incredibly creative lyrically and musically. This record, Convincer, has this sort of quirky crooner approach that could easily come of as corny or contrived but Nick Lowe manages to make it super cool and elegant.
JJ Cale – After Midnight
I just love his laid back approach. JJ Cale is the master of establishing a groove with seemingly little effort.
David Myles – Turn Time Off
David’s a great Canadian songwriter – I love how he is able to blend different genres together to make his sound. This is one of my favourites of his. Being romantic and sentimental can be dangerous territory when writing songs, but David manages to do it so well, and definitely inspires me to take risks with my writing too.
John Wort Hannam – Ain’t Enough
John’s been a mentor to a number of us in the Alberta roots community, myself included. Since meeting him at the Banff Centre, he’s become a great pal. I had the good fortune to write a couple of songs with him that are on this record. He’s a fantastic writer, here’s his new single for his upcoming album.