Prince Edward Island musician Dennis Ellsworth can’t quite put his finger on what makes his latest record, Hazy Sunshine, such an optimistic record when stacked up against his previous works.
Performing at Moncton’s Plan b Lounge tomorrow night, Dennis says that there were no life-changing events that happened in the time leading up to making the album. It is, quite simply, a more positive record. No reading between the lines required.
“I am not really sure if it is attributed to anything in particular,” Dennis says. “I believe the people I surrounded myself with for this session really brought the songs to life in a sunnier way than the past records. There was a feeling of hope among this collection of songs. Keep it alive. Believe in it and don’t let it fade.
“Overall though, I was looking for ways to grow and progress as a writer. I was feeling like things were starting to flow to a positive place and in a positive way. I usually write about feelings and, when I was putting this record together, my feelings were pretty good. The ‘hazy’ part of the album’s title is me not completely letting go of the darker side, though. I like the dark but was also happy to be letting some better vibes in.”
Recorded at the Tragically Hip’s Bathhouse Studios outside of Kingston, Ont., the ‘people’ Dennis surrounded himself with just happened to include the record’s producer, Skydiggers member Josh Finlayson.
Having long been a fan of Josh’s work with The Skydiggers, Dennis credits the producer as having had an overall vision for the record, cobbled together via 30 song demos that Dennis had sent him.
“Most of my demos were recorded on an iPhone yet Josh was able to make sense of the demos I did. He really brought a vision for the material but also brought patience and understanding. He brought some serious players to the table as well. Between his crew and mine, we put together one of the most incredible and efficient bands I have ever worked with.
“Josh also helped me to find the perfect studio for this project. I really wanted an isolated feel, but one that included a place to live together while we worked on this record. The Bathhouse was the best place we could have made this record but without Josh, it may never have been our workspace.”
These days, it is just as common to find Dennis performing in Europe as it is to find him playing closer to his Island home. As proud as he is to be a Canadian citizen, the reality of the situation for him as well as countless other Canadian musicians is that touring our fair country is not always a feasible endeavour. Being the second largest country in the world where major cities in our country’s west can be upwards of 8 to 10 hours apart, touring Europe offers both an exotic and more practical touring experience.
“I have played the United Kingdom as much or even more so than Canada,” he says.”I have been received so well there. Something very cool is developing. In a way, I feel honoured that they have accepted me.
“Europeans love live music. It is rare to play a room there and have chatter and dine while you play. They really listen to the music and the songwriter. Unless you happen to be playing a theatre in Canada, I don’t think we quite have that courtesy down yet.”
What: Dennis Ellsworth
When: Saturday Dec. 21, 10:00 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton
Article published in the December 20, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript