Since the start of the year, Fredericton musician JE Sheehy has been a part of no fewer than three releases from his various musical projects.
In February, his punk-inspired duo Beard Springsteen released its first effort, Downer Punks of Fredericton, which was followed by the cleverly titled Some Kind Of Lobster in August. Last month, The Trick, a synth-oriented band that also calls the province’s capital home, released The Avalanche EP.
Tonight at Moncton’s Plan b Lounge on St. George St., Sheehy will release his fourth musical project of the year: A three-song effort, Birmingham, to be released under the name Saint-Jack. Unlike his other projects, however, Sheehy alone drives Saint-Jack, affording the artist some latitude to spread his songwriting wings into more introspective territory.
“I grew up scattered around Eastern Canada, between Sherbrooke, Quebec and a small fishing village next to the Ocean, with a detour by Sudbury, Ontario,” Sheehy begins. “That has given me an interesting perspective on music since my parents were big consumers of Francophone music, but also of local artists wherever we ended up calling home. I grew up being exposed to many different genres and approaches to music.”
Inspired by the work of Francophone songwriter Philippe B., Sheehy didn’t need to look far for songwriting subjects for his latest venture:
“The three songs on Birmingham sum up the evolution of a new relationship throughout a turbulent year, but also feeling lost in a place which you once called home,” he says. “Breakups also figure into the mix, but beyond the cliché of the loss of a relationship, I chose to examine its impact on habits, environments, and other things you take for granted.
“These songs are much more influenced by my relationship with French music, but also dwells upon textures, dynamics and space in general. It’s also the sum of everything I’ve done and everything I enjoy in music.”
Sheehy shares the idea to embark on a singer-songwriter path came to him last summer when he was invited to take part in a music festival in rural Quebec.
“Through the festival, I was turned onto so many great songwriters that it did make me want to think about taking these songs out of my back pocket. I asked the people who were rooming with me at the time to listen to my songs and give me honest feedback, which was enough for me to book studio time and record the three songs on this EP.”
While there is a general tendency to expect all singer-songwriters to be equipped with an acoustic guitar, stool and stories of how they’ve been done wrong, Sheehy at least sought to push the sonic boundaries on Birmingham’s three tracks:
“’L’été’ is the most folk-oriented track, and is equally inspired by [Montreal folk band] Avec pas d’casque and Grandaddy, while on “Graduation”, I take cues from garage rock, post-punk and new wave, but within the structure of a pop song. ‘Je te déteste (Fredericton)’ is a pop song where I fully embrace my love of maximalist arrangements, with synths, layers of guitars, and guitar harmonies.”
Recorded with Dylan Ward, Sheehy states that his delving into a new style of music wasn’t the only first for him with Birmingham:
“I played all the instruments myself, but it was the first time that I invited someone else into the process,” he says. “In the past, I’ve always felt more efficient working alone behind a laptop than getting other people’s feedback, so it was an interesting evolution for me on that end.”
Saint-Jack’s Birmingham EP is now available online at saintjack.bandcamp.com.
When: Saturday Nov. 5, 8 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton