Doug Paisley (no relation to the American country super star Brad Paisley). I was scouring an alt country music message board back in early 2009, and a poster from the UK wrote, "Oh my! This is the stuff people. Canadian singer songwriter who brings to mind Guy Clark and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy." Whoa! Like me, Paisley lives in Toronto, and he regularly plays near where I live. And yet, it took an internet post from across the pond to discover his music. Clearly, I need to get out more often.
I was completely enamored with his 2009 self-titled debut, and ranked it as one of my favorite albums of 2009. The album opens with a heartbreaking, blubber-into-your-beer, country song called "What About Us?" "Cause I just ain't no good alone." Gulp. "We Weather" is a tender love song about making it through the rough patches in a relationship, and contains some beautiful pedal steel work. "Digging in the Ground" has a wonderfully unique piano lick. "Take My Hand" is about reconciliation. Overall, a fantastic alt country album.
Paisley released his sophomore album Constant Companion on October 12. This album is less on the twangy side, more on the singer/songwriter, indie/folk side, and features some well known musical collaborators such as Garth Hudson of The Band, Basil Donavon of Blue Rodeo, and Canadian pop star Leslie Feist. Feist and Paisley perform a beautiful duet on "Don't Make Me Wait." In the lead track "No One But You" the narrator tries to get his friend or lover to have a little more self-confidence. "At the End of the Day" reflects on the day's events while watching the sun set. The album doesn't have a stand-out track like "What About Us," but overall it is a more consistent album than his debut. If you like soft, dreamy folk music, you should definitely check this one out.
Don't Make Me Wait.mp3
Buy: Constant Companion (2010)
Interestingly, Paisley has received more press in the US and the UK than he has in Canada, possibly because his label No Quarter is based in Brooklyn. Publications like MOJO, Spin, The New Yorker, and the New York Times all lauded Paisley's debut and sophomore releases.
Paisley did a live session November 12 on CBC radio's Q, where he got host Jian Ghomeshi to sit in on drums. Paisley talks about working with the legendary Hudson, how excited he is about his Canadian tour, and performs three songs from Constant Companion. You can download the Q podcast or listen to the episode on-line here.
Paisley continues his first major Canadian tour Wednesday night in Hamilton, Ontario. He is touring with another excellent Toronto folk-ish performer, Bahamas.