In the more than two years that lapsed between his 2014 album Don’t Let The World See Your Love and his latest effort, Songs Of, released this past May, Ontario songwriter Spencer Burton came to an important realization:
Life is good.
“I say this with no hint of irony: I’ve come to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around me. When I wrote my previous record, I was a bachelor dude, living on my own, and doing what I wanted.” Burton says, speaking in advance of his show at Moncton’s Plan b Lounge on Sunday evening.
Asked what happened in the interim to help open his eyes to the good fortunes that his life has held thus far, Burton pulls no punches:
“I met my wife and we had a child together. The past few years has been this amazing culmination of experiences that have opened my eyes to so many things. I feel like I’m the luckiest man on earth. When you’re surrounded by family and friends, everything else is gravy.”
While the good vibes aren’t overtly obvious on Songs Of, there is little denying Burton’s songwriting prowess. Accompanied by the backing band of American singer-songwriter Margo Price, Burton’s music walks a gloriously blurry line between country and folk, allowing his knack for telling stories to take centre stage throughout the record.
In some respects, Burton’s contentment with place in the world today couldn’t be farther from his punk roots. Or maybe it’s just that he’s more openly embracing them.
Burton first rose to national prominence as a part of Attack In Black, a punk band that, by the time they released their swansong in 2009, had evolved into an indie rock group tinged with folk sensibilities.
“It’s a natural evolution as far as I’m concerned,” Burton says as he reflects upon his musical journey thus far. “When I look back on the music I listened to 10 years ago in the thick of the Attack In Black days, I was the guy throwing on Willie Nelson on the stereo.”
While he jokes that getting older could also be factoring in to his having embraced folk music so enthusiastically, Burton believes it was somewhat inevitable that his influences would end up on his sleeve.
“We [Attack In Black] all used to listen to so much punk music that it was natural we’d start looking at what else the world had to offer, and I think people appreciated that about the band. We had four songwriters all listening to and contributing something different to the mix. It just so happened that everything I wrote for the group tended to be on the more delicate side of things, these simple, three-chord songs.”
Earlier this summer, Burton had the opportunity to perform at the massive Cavendish Beach Music Festival in Prince Edward Island. Although he refutes the notion that he’s a country singer – “I wear a big hat, that’s about as country as I get,” he says – having the chance to get in front of a sea of new faces on the festival’s emerging artists stage is all a part of the bigger plan at this point in the game.
“The festival itself was a whole lot of fun. Just the most hospitable bunch of people, which is always nice.”
Despite the fact his music couldn’t be farther removed from the new country music movement, Burton says that for the most part, fans are always willing to listen.
“Some music fans – across all genres of music – don’t tend to go to these festivals to really dig into the messages behind the songs. Quite often, they will stick with what they know just out of comfort. But there is also a big segment of people that will take the time to listen to what festivals like Cavendish are throwing at them, and seem to embrace finding something new along the way to enjoying their favourite acts. That’s all I can really ask for at this point: the opportunity to have someone listen.”
What: Spencer Burton
When: Sunday Sept. 3, 9 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton