Doug Paisley’s fantastic EP, Golden Embers, is finally getting a Canadian release courtesy of the good people at Cameron House Records. I reviewed the EP over a year ago, but any chance to remind listener of Piasley’s music is welcome. Doug will share the Danforth Music Hall stage with Reuben and the Dark and Hayden on November 30th.
With each release, criminally under appreciated songwriter Doug Paisley reinforces that fact he’s a professional talent. A musician’s musician. He does the little things, as if by instinct or because they’re engrained into his genetic makeup. If music was a game of pick-up hoops he’d hedge the screen without you having to call switch or help. If you were on the road, he’d let you tuck in to draft just as your legs started to burn.
Sadly, we live in a time where timeless talent is less valued than the warming buzz of the moment. On Golden Embers, Paisley surrounds himself with talented friends (Leslie Feist, Bazil Donovan, Robbie Grunwald are back, but it’s John Showman’s fiddle and Joey Wright’s mandolin that really define the mood of the EP) hits record and starts to sing. Paisley’s blend of bluegrass and country will appeal to traditionalists as sweeping strings, twinkled keys, tasteful, heartbreaking mandolin, keep time drums and harmonies support his sadness and perfectly placed hints of joy optimism soften the blow, but Golden Embers is more about raw emotion than finding perfection in the sound.
The EP clocks in under 20-minutes, and before you even finish the first pass you feel the weight lift from your shoulders and a calm take over your body, but like smoky finish of a nice scotch, it’s not until oxygen and time enhance the notes that you truly appreciate the recipe. “I’ve been a sad sinner, for such a long time.” The simple admission hits like Terry Tate, but the more you hear Paisley say it, the more it becomes a part of you (songs like “Learn to Lose” and “City of Light” work the same way). Paisley prefers every day language to clever turns of phrase and while his style might not be showy, it creates the deep connections artists spend their entire career searching for.
When I was asked to provide CBC Music readers a list of five singer / songwriters to watch, Paisley was at the top of my ballot. Constant Companion slowed the never ending onslaught of noise and forced me to take a much needed breath. Golden Embers take another step in that direction, removing every unnecessary note, leaving only sadness for me to embrace and much needed moments of hope to keep me going. These songs are as close to real life as it gets for me, and I wouldn’t trade that for any amount of youtube views or blog hits.
MP3:: Doug Paisley - Sad Sinner