With Christmas and New Year’s now in the rear view mirror it’s time to look at some of the records from 2017 I didn’t have the opportunity to write about before we kicked into holiday mode.
A Week At The Warehouse - Alan Doyle
Some artists run hot and cold.
Alan Doyle is not one of them.
Whether fronting Great Big Sea or stepping out to do his own thing Doyle has never failed to meet whatever expectations I might have had for his work.
And my expectations, based on his previous output and that of GBS, have been high.
So having read the pre-release press for “A Week at The Warehouse” and listened to two interviews he did to promote the record I found myself expecting something special.
I was not disappointed.
Doyle’s third solo offering is an instant classic, one of those all too rare records you place in perpetual rotation on your iTunes player and simply never tire of.
The material Doyle penned for this record will connect with fans on a number of different levels.
There are joy-filled excursions like the first single, “Summer Summer Night”, “Come Out With Me and Bully Boys” - the latter originally written for Ridley Scott’s 2010 version of “Robin Hood” - which will make you want to push back the furniture and dance your partner around the room.
There are moments of genuine sweetness like “Somewhere In A Song” and “I’ll Be Yours, You Be Mine”.
And when you least expect it, Doyle opens things up with a flat-out rocker complete with blistering guitar solos in “Ready To Go”.
There is much to like on this record, but there are two songs I keep coming back to over and over, “Somewhere In A Song” and “Beautiful to Me”.
Doyle has described “Somewhere in a Song” as something of a tip of the hat to his parents and how they managed to raise their children in a house that, in retrospect, had very little modern finery but had, in abundance, so much more of life’s most important things.
Beautiful to Me is an upbeat, poppy little gem. If I was a filmmaker looking for something to play over the closing credits that would send people home from the theatre with a smile on their face, it would be this song.
And it’s a song with a wonderful message.
“ ‘Beautiful to Me’ is my announcement to the world that my concerts are an open door for anybody of any shape or size or colour or race or creed or gender identity or sexual preference. All you need is love in your heart and my place is yours,” Doyle says.
That’s a message people need to hear today more than ever.
Doyle recorded “A Week at The Warehouse” in Vancouver with legendary producer Bob Rock, who’s helmed projects for everyone from Bryan Adams and Loverboy to Aerosmith, Bon Jovi and Metallica.
Originally, Doyle and his band went into the studio with the idea they would be doing pre-production demos for the record but Rock found Doyle and his band so prepared, so ready to go they recorded the album on the spot. The album was recorded basically live off the floor, capturing the immediacy and the energy of the moment.
Doyle’s touring band, which features fiddler Kendel Carson, guitarist Cory Tetford, drummer Kris MacFarlane, keyboard/accordion player Todd Lumley and bassist Shehab Illyas on bass, backed him on the record. But there was also a special appearance by former Payolas bandmate Paul Hyde.
Doyle has just launched a major North American tour in support of the record and there are five dates in Atlantic Canada in May. Unfortunately, none are in Charlottetown. The closest shows are in Moncton on May 3 and in Halifax May 4-5.
(Ratings 4 out of 5 stars)
- Alan Doyle just recently released his second book, “A Newfoundlander in Canada”.
He describes it as a journal-like account of his earliest trips across Canada. “ It tells the story of what the vast and varied country of Canada looked like to me, a fella from the far, far east of the country who’d never really been anywhere but home,” Doyle says. His first book, “Where I Belong”, was a bestseller.
- Doyle is one of 50 Canadian performers featured on a rousing live version of “Home For A Rest”, recorded as part of a fundraiser at the legendary Commodore Ballroom to help a dear friend, John Mann, singer for Spirit of the West. Mann has early-onset Alzheimer’s. You can watch the video and contribute to the fundraiser at https://www.gofundme.com/john-mann-home-for-a-rest. Others featured on the video include The Jim Cuddy Band, Sarah McLachlan, Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies Colin James and Shari Ulrich, to name but a few.
Doug Gallant is a freelance writer and well-known connoisseur of a wide variety of music. His On Track column will appear in The Guardian every second Saturday. To comment on what he has to say or to offer suggestions for future reviews, email him at email@example.com.