For his latest full-length album Folklore, the release of which is being celebrated at Moncton’s Empress Theatre on Saturday evening, Jason Haywood chose to travel down a different path than he did with his two previous records.
While previous efforts – 2012’s A Thousand Miles Since Yesterday and Nothing Stays The Same (2008) – were firmly entrenched in a distinct Americana, singer-songwriter vibe, there is a more sinister, darker narrative permeating Folklore.
Set around the turn of the 20th century, Haywood found inspiration for his new record amid the time-honoured sounds of Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, and The Louvin Brothers.
“With this album, I decided to shy away from the confessional side of songwriting and approach the material more from a third-party narrative,” Haywood says. “When I was coming up with the concept of the record, the turn of the 20th century was fixed in my mind as to when these events would have unfolded. That was the headspace I put myself in to bring these songs to life.”
Acknowledging the songs on Folklore aren’t quite as lyrically straightforward compared to the material on his first two records, Haywood insists that exploring new artistic territory was a refreshing change of pace.
“Lyrically, this album is more verbose that anything I’ve done in the past, which is the result of me looking to creatively push myself. The darker undercurrent of the record and its topics of good and evil, obsession, and heartbreak, among others, is something I’ve wanted to pursue for quite some time. I’m not sure it will hold the same appeal that my previous records held for some, but how the record would ultimately be received wasn’t really a consideration when I was making it. It was something I felt like I needed to do.”
In addition to pursuing a new artistic voice, Haywood shares the making of Folklore also marked another kind of first: He ceded control of the recording process to his long-time friend Dale Murray, who served as the producer for the project.
Recorded at Murray’s studio in Port Howe, N.S., Haywood had little in the way of qualms with Murray taking charge.
“There’s a long-standing friendship between Dale and I. He’s been on all of my records to date, but I’m also a big fan of the work he’s done with others. The care he takes with respect to not only making albums sound a certain way, but also the time he spends getting the sounds, instinctively told me he was the right guy for the job. I’ve been very hands-on with the making of my other records, but when it came to Dale, I trusted he would steer me in the right direction for making this album, from song selection to helping refine the material.”
Helping bring Haywood’s new album to life on Saturday night is a varied cast of musicians, including Murray, Christina Martin, East Coast Love Story members Ryan Hillier and Marcus Fougere, fiddler Gordie MacKeeman, Backyard Devils member Remi Arsenault, and more.
There will also be a multimedia element to the performance, Haywood notes, helping give show-goers a different perspective on what is undoubtedly one of his most ambitious efforts to date.
Given the almost five years that passed between the release of his new album and his prior effort, Haywood assures us that he is hoping to narrow that gap significantly next time around.
“It remains to be seen what direction my next album will bring me, but the songwriting process is already under way,” he says.
What: Jason Haywood album release for Folklore
When: Saturday May 13, 8 p.m.
Where: Empress Theatre, Robinson Court, Downtown Moncton
Advance tickets are $15.50, available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone (506) 856-4379 and online at capitol.nb.ca. On the day of the show, tickets are $19.50.