Justin Rutledge: Good Man
The acclaimed roots songsmith previews a new album with a compelling track that is a touch more upbeat than the melancholy material permeating earlier records.
By Kerry Doole
Justin Rutledge - "Good Man" (Outside Music): The critically-acclaimed Juno-winning roots songsmith releases his eighth studio album, Passages, on May 31.
“Good Man,” the first track to surface, centres around the story of one of Rutledge’s relatives, who tried his best to outrun his inner demons. The tune is a touch more upbeat than the melancholy material found on much of his earlier albums, while the impeccable instrumental support he has always received is again in evidence here.
Co-produced by Chris Stringer (Timbre Timbre, Elliott Brood) and recorded in ten days at Union Sound in Toronto, the majority of Passages is recorded live off the floor, with minimal overdubs. In a label press release, Rutledge explains that “We had my friend Zac Rae [of Death Cab For Cutie] record some guitar and textures at his studio in Los Angeles, but I wanted to keep as much as we could from the original Toronto takes.”
Look for some different soundscapes on the record. “Country and roots music will always be my first love,” says Rutledge, “but lately I’ve been listening to a lot of ambient instrumental music like Four Tet and Nils Frahm, and I wanted to invite that influence into the way the songs on Passages are encircled.”
The new band he worked with includes Tragically Hip guitarist Rob Baker. “It was a real honour to have Rob in the studio with us, both musically and socially,” says Rutledge. “As a musician, he’s quite fearless and very intuitive when it comes to serving the song.”
.Rutledge revived some older songs for the album; three songs by his LA-based band Early Winters, as well as “Boats,” penned by Rutledge and literary giant Michael Ondaatje.
He plays four Ontario shows this month, with extensive touring commencing in the summer.
Publicity: Stephanie Hardman, Outside Music