Canadian musician and acclaimed accordionist Geoff Berner has been busy this month, releasing both a new album, writing another novel and playing at the Vancouver's Accordion Noir festival this weekend.

His newest album Canadiana Grotesquica pokes gentle fun at society by featuring topics such as a Vancouver Canucks' enforcer and singers who fake southern accents. Despite the fun, there is a deeper message to his work, he told CBC host of North by Northwest Sheryl MacKay.

"It's a silly title but there is a point to it," Berner said. "The grotesque, I'm told, means something that has been yanked up from the grotto, it's a word from early archeology."

He said it was a fitting name because a lot of the songs on the album had been "hauled up" from the past.

"These are songs that kind of popped out of me when I was doing my … punk records," Berner said. "Every once in awhile, something would just happen and I would write a song and it would not work in that context."

Country vibes

The songs have much more of a country feel than his previous work, Berner said.

"I hang around with a lot of country singer-songwriters so things come out sometimes," he said. "I would try them out on the audience and the ones on this record are the ones where people said, 'Where can I get that?'"

As well as working on the new album, Berner just finished his soon-to-be-released novel The Fiddler is a Good Woman.

He said all the writing has proven to be almost therapeutic because, when touring, there is a lot of enforced downtime that can be tempting to fill with less productive activities.

"If you just sit down and write 500 to 1,000 words on the train or at sound check, it kind of keeps you out of trouble," he said.

To hear the full interview with Geoff Berner and listen to two of his newest songs, click on the audio link below. 

With files from North by Northwest