In an era where blogger hyperbole seems to indicate every band with a demo should be playing to sold out arenas, real talent is often confused with real… convenience, and the term “musicians musician” gets thrown around too liberally. Successfully delivering on the sound de jour is one thing, but converting career musicians with an understanding of the past and the present into fans is another altogether.
Sarnia born, TO based Kyp Harnes has earned that title and the respect of some of the biggest names in Canadian music. A list of Kyp’s talented fans is an embarrassment of riches and should be enough to convince you to listen to one of Canada’s most overlooked musicians: Sexsmith, Townes, Costello, Lanois, Wiseman. Ironically, a collection of artists known by one name all sing the praises of a man that most music lovers couldn’t identify with both names, a discography laid in front of them and Google launched in an internet browser. Naively, I hope Resurrection Gold changes that.
From start to finish, the power this record packs is remarkable. With a nasally drawl and a hint of Lou Reed’s unmistakeably casual cool, Harness could catch your ear with any of his well put together arrangements (“Pick Me Up Baby” just jumps out of the speakers), but it’s his pen that makes him stand out. Every song seems to build on couplets that stick in your head and trigger deep, emotional connections.
“I dreamed I met a man who was running for his life, but he was really only from it. I met another who believed evil would be conquered only by those that would willingly become it.”
“I don’t even know why I came to this place, as if wishful thinking could overcome cold fact. I don’t know what it was I looked for for so long in your face, I’m gonna leave while I can still find my way back.
“All that you call life, just leads to death.”
“If I could hold back time, I’d save this moment while I’m with you, forever.”
As you listen to Kyp’s vocals, you realize that life has certainly beaten him down over the years but it hasn’t crushed his spirit. Keen observation and nostalgic memories never give way to bitterness or resentment. Hope will win out over regret. Kyp still loves deeply (just listen to the Reed-esque “Diggin’ Your Vibe” or the summery, harmony laced “Wandering Heart”) and will follow his heart even if he fears it might not work out. Better to have loved and lost as the cliche taught us.
Resurrection Gold is an effortless response to any of the new folkies that naively think they’ve felt pain, seen the country and suffered through the hardships. Much like the the coming of age lesson every teen learns when challenging his dad to some driveway 1:1. Every clever shift and premeditated cross-over is mitigated and once he gets the ball Harness backs down his smaller opponent time after time, coolly dropping easy buckets before walking off the court without saying a word. Every song he offers shows more depth, sincerity and talent than the best chords and verses that assault our ears on a daily basis, Harness simply refuses to scream the loudest in an effort to get heard.
These songs have been built over years not months, grown from trading lyrics and melodies with the greats, not simply pilfering from them. Kyp’s songs are covered by the same men and women that are all too often the victim of sub par renditions by college kids. Basically, Kyp Harness is a songwriter with few peers, but sadly, equally as few fans. Hopefully Resurrection Gold – one of the best records of the year – will continue to prove the former and rectify the latter.
MP3:: Kyp Harness – Passenger