Judging by the year of the Gary Carter card I found inside, it was seventeen years later when I rediscovered my childhood treasures, wrapped in tattered cloth, tucked into a rusty box that was buried as deep as my tiny arms allowed. I was helping dad in the backyard when the shovel caved in the lid of the box and threatened the integrity of the contents.
Stripped of any identifiable markers and I didn’t remember burying it… whatever it was. The smell of old dirt and must wafted out of the box as the hinges creaked open and all I could ask was what meant enough to me that I needed to hide it from everyone instead of carrying it around proudly like I the Stanley Cup?
Flickering Flashlight, the whimsical and equally magical LP from Adam & The Amethysts, encases the same sort of dime store treasures and invokes the same childhood memories. Undoubtedly, Flickering Flashlight took root and grew in Montreal, was watered with Adam’s experiences and nurtured by an apartment willing to absorb and echo sounds to fully encapsulate the band’s ideas, but the seeds were planted years ago in Adam’s backyard.
This is a tribute to Adam’s roots; not a “Sweet Home Alabama” serenade or Springsteen inspired dissection of the people and locations he called home, simply an admission that where he came from helped him become who he is now. Waito’s charm is largely due to an unwavering honesty that not only hints at emotions and scars, it invites you to look closer and present your own open wounds. He never assumes his buried treasures, skinned knees or broken bones are more important than yours, but they are the currency he values and is willing to trade.
Although the nostalgia of Flickering Flashlight is powerful, there is nothing juvenile about the sound. Adam, Rebecca Lessard and Scott Johnson Gailey push themselves and challenge the conventions of home recording to the breaking point, leveraging the ghosts floating around the apartment, then filling it with strings, hand claps, keyboards and reverb. There are beautiful moments of psychedelia, but no adolescent drug filled meanders. There are traces of the folk foundation we pride ourselves on as Canadian music fans, but no institution is revisited or misused.
Above all, there is inspiration. Adam and his friends have written songs that let us jump without reservation. They help us fight without fear. They help us love without worry. They help us cry without shame. They help us share without expectations of reciprocation. Most importantly, they help us live as if a new year is waiting just after the next chord.
MP3:: Adam & The Amethysts - Prophecy