Wed, Dec 19, 2012.
Hey, what are you doing New Year's Eve? Ya, I know, it's not even Christmas yet, but it's not too early to start those plans, especially if you don't want to end up like I always do, watching the crystal ball drop on TV, wondering why I never go out. Anyway, if the Mayans don't get us before then, there's lots of great, local music happening at clubs and such in pretty much every place in the province, way too many to mention, so I'll just concentrate on one right now. In Moncton, you can head over to the Casino NB pub, and catch a guy who has a brand new album out. It's the veteran Moncton-area songsmith and performer, Jared Lutes.
Lutes reckons he's played over a thousand gigs over the past ten years. He started out with the group inTandem, which has gradually shifted over to a solo emphasis. Lutes and his band still play tons of shows each year, and he's now released his first full length album under his own name, after a debut E.P. that came out in 2010. The new album is called When We Grow Younger, and while he couldn't be considered a new talent, Lutes feels this one finally represents what he's always tried to be as an artist. He considers all those years before as discovery of the things he holds important, in music and life, and it's all come out in this group of songs.
You can tell a lot about Lutes from his songs. Family is hugely important to him. His wife, Marie-Josee Poitras, was a member of inTandem, and continues to sing with him, on many of the songs here. They have a young son, and he features promenantly, sometimes obviously, like on the song Beautiful Boy, and the picture of him on the back cover. Sometimes it's subtle, in the values of family and support and love that come through in the lyrics. I think that's a big part of what you feel across the disc, and why Lutes says it's taken a decade for him to get to the place he feels comfortable.
I'd call what he does heartland rock. That's a term you'll often hear applied to roots-based rockers from the States with a connection to community, people like John Mellancamp, Springsteen, Bob Seger. In Canada, maybe Blue Rodeo represents that feel, and to an extent, The Tragically Hip as well, and Tom Cochrane for sure. There's lots of melody, meat-and-potatoes rock with a bit of country flowing through as well. All the guitar, bass, drums and keyboards are there, but so is Lutes' acoustic guitar, and pretty well all these songs could also be played with just a six-string, straight from the heart. People think heartland means small town, but Lutes is one who doesn't forget to put the heart in heartland, to love life and what it offers. With his positive new disc, it sounds like he's in a good place, both musically and personally.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).