Adam Baldwin Spreads His Wings With Latest Effort

Photo by Jeff Cooke
Photo by Jeff Cooke

When it comes to discussing the three years that passed between the 2013 release of his acclaimed debut EP and this past June’s full-length record No Telling When (Precisely Nineteen Eighty-Five), Halifax rocker Adam Baldwin prefers to measure this specific span of time via his children.

“It doesn’t feel like all that long ago, but that EP is older than my daughter. When I start thinking about things that way, it kind of freaks me out,” he says.

As Baldwin readies himself and his band to support Sam Roberts at Moncton’s Casino New Brunswick on Wednesday evening – the province’s sole tour stop – the guitarist insists he used the time between releases wisely.

In addition to continuing to faithfully serve as the guitarist for fellow Haligonian Matt Mays and the previously mentioned birth of his second child, Baldwin wrote and recorded the material featured on his newest effort.

What is perhaps most striking about No Telling When (Precisely Nineteen Eighty-Five) is how Baldwin’s growth as a songwriter is evident in virtually each note of the record.

“We recorded the EP in four days in Halifax. I basically threw the band in the studio and we played the songs. I certainly enjoy doing that, but I was interested in kicking things up a notch and really immerse myself in the making of this new record.”

To ensure he maximized the recording experience, Baldwin packed his bags and headed west to Toronto, where he made his new album with producer Liam O’Neil, a former member of Montreal band The Stills that now performs with multi-platinum rock band Kings of Leon.

It was the first time that Baldwin worked with a producer on his own material, a process that he said initially made him a little anxious to get to the finish line.

“Admittedly, I have a hard time relinquishing control of a lot of things, let alone my music, but found out pretty early on that having another set of ears and another set of ideas to add into the mix was a perk. Liam brought out so much in these songs, highlighting specific parts that I probably never would have thought twice about,” Baldwin offers.

Asked what he sees as the most significant difference between his latest record and his EP, Baldwin cites both life experience and the inevitable maturation of his songwriting as the most natural culprits.

“With my EP, it was a collection of the best five songs I had accumulated at that point in my life, while going into the making of this record, my perspective was as a father of two kids, as opposed to a 22 or 23 year old party animal.

“I’ve always valued quality over quantity when it comes to songwriting. I just don’t have the attention span to sit down and write 100 songs; I’d write focus on writing 10 or 12 killer tracks.”

Among the most notable of the tracks featured on No Telling When (Precisely Nineteen Eighty-Five) is the song “Rehtaeh,” the singer’s perspective on the systemic failures that led to the death of Nova Scotian Rehtaeh Parsons in 2013.

Baldwin says that while he typically isolates himself when it comes to penning new material, the track flowed from him with his children playing at his feet.

“I had yet to put Rehtaeh’s name into the song, but knew that I had to take responsibility for the sake of both of my kids. My daughter was 10 feet away from me when I wrote it. I thought about how she would feel if she were to suffer the same fate, but also thought how I want my son to grow up understanding how to treat a woman, and be sure he understands limits and respect. Honestly, I don’t know if the song would have turned out the way it did if my kids weren’t with me at that time.”

Just days following the last show on the Sam Roberts tour, Baldwin and his band will be heading west to Vancouver where they will kick off almost a dozen shows across Western Canada in support of acclaimed Toronto band July Talk.

As he continues working in support of his latest album, and with a new Matt Mays effort anticipated to be coming down the pipe in the new year, Baldwin’s plate will remain impressively full over the foreseeable future. While being away from family is undeniably tough, he recognizes that his hectic schedule and life happens to be the by-product of his success.

“When I was young and stupid, I wanted to play music for a living,” he says, laughing. “It’s something that I didn’t take seriously for a long time, but I’ve come to realize that it’s giving me the opportunity to provide for my family, which is amazing. As long as I can keep writing and stay busy, this is the best way I know how to earn a living.”

What: Adam Baldwin, special guest to Sam Roberts
When: Wednesday Nov. 16, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Tickets start at $29.99 plus tax and service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Casino gift shop, by phone 1-866-943-8849 and online at casinonb.ca.