JIM BRYSON - SOMEWHERE WE WILL FIND OUR PLACE
Released February 19, 2016
By Eric Lusk
The musical capability of Ontario native Jim Bryson is expansive. The singer-songwriter has released four critically-acclaimed solo albums in addition to recording collaborative works with Winnipeg-based The Weakerthans, and his sixth and latest album, Somewhere We Will Find Our Place, is sure to lay the foundation for his continued musical success in the coming years.
Produced and mixed with the help of Charles Spearin (Do Make Say Think and Broken Social Scene) and Shawn Everett (who recently won a Grammy for his work on Alabama Shakes’ latest album Sound & Color), Somewhere We Will Find Our Place soars to new, unfamiliar heights when contrasted with Bryson's preceding albums.
The combined skill of those involved in the record's production manifests most visibly in the opening track: a driven, well-constructed and beautifully layered song titled Depression Dance. This track is described by Bryson as initially being "a strummy pop song" until Spearin took the initiative and blended two separate guitar riffs while Everett worked on ensuring the guitars were the most prominent sound on the track. The layering on this track goes deeper than its lead instruments though – much, much deeper. The song is built on a foundation of rapid, rhythmic bass and long, gliding tones, while high above, the dual vocals gently float back and forth. These elements build to create an exciting piece of music sure to captivate the listener and draw them in for the ensuing nine songs.
Vocal harmonies take a very prevalent position on this album, with nearly every track backed by a female vocalist. Ontario sees a beautiful harmony between Bryson and longtime friend Kathleen Edwards, with whom Bryson has toured and recorded extensively throughout his career. Ontario is another sonically distinct track on the album thanks to its chilling intro. Somewhere between a soft, glowing synth and nails on a chalkboard rests an eerie introductory tone not unlike the sound of a resonating, half-filled wine glass. The song soon breaks into a comfortably rapid pace and quickly builds to a chorus depicting Bryson's pride and affection for his home province, something a British Columbian such as myself knows well.
All in all, Somewhere We Will Find Our Place is a diverse medley of influences, rhythms, instruments and voices, capable of intriguing and exciting its listeners throughout the duration of its ten beautifully unique songs. As I listened to this album, I found myself drawing connections to other prevalent names in similar genres such as Bon Iver, Bahamas, Josh Ritter and Sufjan Stevens. I see this as a testament to the carefully written and very diverse nature of this album, which is an accolade that will no doubt have me listening to Bryson and his collaborators for years to come.