A peaceful resolve leads Duncan Ivany & The North Coast Band's heart-tugging 'Of Loving & Leaving', to new ends as this record takes our most dismal and gloomy days and melts away.
Anyone in The Duncan Ivany Brother's clique might already be habituated in marveling over how satiating western folk music can be. Here, much of 'Of Love & Leaving' finds the Erin, Ontario-based band delivering us a five-track extended play, formulated between the four walls of a studio converted to out of a church in rural Hamilton to produce lyrics that enamor and a hummable harmony that is reminiscent of bands like Half Moon Run and The Bahamas.
Duncan Ivany's latest EP operates on the fumigating tenderness of his nourishing lead vocals and is often just a handful of strings or percussion away from being a bonfire Accapella. The record is as onerous as its title would hint, toeing over the love-sick lines most intimately with a beautiful afterglow. The minimal orchestration of the instrumental layers here embellish that the fact 'Of Love and Leaving' was recorded in a Studio-Church, which is part of the reason feels so agrarian and earthy naturally.
"Traveling Band" would earn every descriptor of Canadian Indie-Folk music—unceremonious, rustic and earthy, existing somewhere between the shims of our front porch or the cots in our backyard—and with every number that passes, we're more invested in the band's slender shaped silhouette as they glow with profound intensity from track to track. On this one, The Ivany Brothers and their accompanying North Coast Band ordain a tiptoeing snare for the rhythm, the twinkling of a sprightly acoustic guitar for color, and a rousing topline that pulls at our heartstrings. There's no room for metaphor or cheekiness here, as their songwriting principle seems to resemble a class of rose-colored fervency: everything is delicately lathed with love-sick hymns and a dash of transparency.
The songs here are bright and loose, built for a quiet time on aimless middays. It all mirrors closely to the formulas the band has observed over decades of overshadowing Folk-Music notoriety. The defining contradiction here is Duncan Ivany's harmony and the North Coast Band's heartwarming attendance as their ability to convey love nurturing lines while reminiscing about the past is indisputable. We're left feeling amiable and soothed as if our fingers were fastened between a loved one's grasp. Listening more intimate to their unearthing texture in a room alone, and it's easy to visualize The Ivany Brothers, and The North Coast band sat an arm's length away amongst a candlelit backdrop, playing for us privately.
The songs are orchestrated and rendered with a band that showcases veteran tightness, as atmospheric chants and resonating guitar situates us intimately against edges of the mix. Playful and tender-loving, Duncan and his group feel delightful in all of their homegrown folkish nature. The opening notes of the record's highlight—Kate—quiver as the softly oscillating keys, which pull back the curtains of this song to reveal a healthy bass ingeniously summoning the sway of a lover's first dance. "Gone for good, but I was hoping that she would stay," he belts out in the final chorus, with a trace of melancholy leaving his lips, "I'm okay, I'm okay on my own." It feels like the reverberations of the rooms are awakened by the wavering of our own clamoring feet for this tune.
The unfolding flows freely from here. Duncan handles love songs with a fascinating delicacy and balance with, At Peace, acknowledging the overwhelming emotions that persist when a person falls head over heels for someone else. With a modest orchestration of acoustic guitars and the extraordinary voice of Mr. Ivany himself, the record affirms a definitive contemporary folk appearance. The more lively "You Never Forget" mirrors the aforementioned approach, but with the diversity of electric strings and a deeply saturated low-end. Most notable here is the song's candid hop-scotch feeling, which resembles a paradigm for retribution under the guise of obscured love-tinted hues.
During "Letters", Duncan is wrestling with a bout of unanswered love. He is honest and self-aware here, crooning over a dreamlike piano accompaniment that permeates the song's expanses. He touches on the sadness of love running dull and the mistakes in everyone's past, as he confides in the fact that it's necessary to take space sometimes. "Let's just write letters for a little while, no more staring at my screen, wonder what it means," he trills, condensing the album's vast sensitive and impassioned terrain into a stimulating indie-folk sabbatical. Of Love and Leaving is a record teeming with life; focusing and surrounding the unpredictable waters of love, while impacting with a sharp wit and balanced orchestration. It's the kind of thing you seldom find in contemporary music these days, and it feels like a blessing to have Duncan Ivany and his masquerading Band of brothers escorting us through the intimate curves of this record.
Discover More about Duncan Ivany & The North Coast Band here.
You mention Catherine North was the central location for the making of this EP. How would you describe the process of recording in that beautiful church on Park Street in Hamilton, ON?
Catherine North was such an amazing place to record the album. Immediately when you step in the building you realize you're in the presence of greatness. With bands such as The Arkells, The Glorious Sons, City & Colour, and The Trews all using this studio to create masterpieces. An old church, completely empty with a stage at the front and two isolation rooms for bass & guitar amounts. It also includes a vocal booth of course for tracking completely live off the floor. Our Engineer Aidan Robson is an absolutely incredible man to work with, if you are experienced or not he will work with you on anything and bring you the best product. He is very skilled at mixing and mastering and is thorough in his process of creating killer tones & sound effects. The process started with Connor Ivany & Wes Morrison recording the stem tracks (electric & bass) live off the floor to a click track with Duncan's vocals & acoustic used as a scratch track. All of the stems were laid first, with Connor Ivany playing the Wurlitzer and stand-up piano on a couple of tracks (heard on Kate & Letters). The first day of recording resulted in six songs with stem tracks, overdubbing the tracks with an old 1930s Gibson that Dallas Green used on "Sleeping Sickness". The second day was for vocals, solos, and any rerecordings. The vocal recordings began in the vocal booth but quickly changed to the main stage to create a reverb, roomy tone. The Song Of Love & Leaving was recorded on the stage with local Toronto singer-songwriter Holly Clausius using an old bidirectional mic along with two room mics to pick up the beautiful echoes this church has to offer. Holly's voice can also be heard backing up The North Coast Band on some select singles currently being released until the end of August 2020. Catherine North is highly recommended to anyone in the Canadian Music Industry especially in the Greater Toronto Area.
What emotions do you believe this record should invoke in your audience, especially pertaining to the topics you touched on in Of Love & Leaving?
The audience will definitely be compelled by this feeling of heartbreak, whether your interpretation is positive or negative. There is a lot of hope in these songs, you will find: love, letting go, answers, peace, nostalgia, happiness, and a sense of belonging. This album was written about a series of different events occurring in our lives or lives of people we know, directly related to the themes of love and leaving. Most of the time those feelings go hand in hand and people feel vulnerable about leading them to shy away from talking about it. But in reality, a lot of the time, especially when you're in your mid-20s, you are experiencing love for the first time. Your first love or high school sweetheart as is were doesn't always have a storybook ending and there is often a leaver. The lover gets left behind but either way, there is heartbreak and uprooting of one's life in order to better themselves to achieve their dream in the future. There is a song on this album for every mood you might feel during this process - happy & free, nostalgic & loving, and chill & romantic.
How have you been keeping busy as a band amongst the self-isolated norm of this pandemic?
We have been keeping busy by releasing new music every New Music Friday for 17 weeks from May 1st, 2020 to the end of August 2020. This is a way for Duncan Ivany & The North Coast Band to connect with our fans during a time when we would normally be outperforming shows every weekend. We are supporting this with an online live stream presence along with working as Emerging Artists with Ontario Musicians Cooperative Incorporated. We currently perform in two Facebook and Youtube or Instagram Livestreams each week through the OMCI page, along with other live streams outside of employment. We both have strong environmental personalities, so when we aren't making music Duncan is planting trees across Ontario, while Connor is living off-grid in the southernmost part of Canada on Pelee Island working as an organic farmer.
When it comes to your aspirations as a group, what are the next and most proximate milestones you will be reaching for this year?
Our plans next year (hopefully Post-COVID) are to tour festivals across Canada and record our first full-length album (hopefully at Catherine North again). We really want to collaborate with Rob Laska from the band Valley at some point in the future, either in a co-write or having him produce the album. A dream is to record a live-off-the-floor album produced by Alan Doyle (from Great Big Sea). Hopefully bringing this music to streaming platforms in early 2021 and to the festival scene but everyone is unsure what that scene will look like in the future. Another goal is to tour rural small-town Ontario halls & theatres to perform shows for 40-100 people. After growing up in a small town, it would be incredible to tour and see everything Ontario has to offer in a smaller capacity. This might also be a safer option.
What has been keeping you inspired throughout 2020? What can we expect to see from you next?
Writing new music, mixing & mastering all of their 17 new singles has really been keeping us busy. We have been consistently uploading new music to distributors every week for the past couple of months. We are also writing more brand new music for their concept album "Field to City" with folk/rock songs on Side A and Indie/Dance songs on Side B. We want these songs to be inspired by certain historical structures throughout the beautiful province (such as Deagle's Mill in Forks of the Credit Provincial Park). This album will be unique because it will involve a fully produced album, a live album recorded at each individual structure with accompanying live videos. These projects have been slowly ramping up in the background while the weekly releases have been in the foreground. We have also been updating our website, visuals, merchandise, and professional portfolio which all can be found at thenorthcoastband.com. Working full-time as musicians during these weird times has really inspired us to keep going. Being able to collaborate with other emerging artists from OMCI has kept us fresh while increasing our technological knowledge. We hosted our first-ever ZOOM concert, raising money for our group and a local venue, The Circle Theatre, and funds for A Dollar A Day Foundation that was founded by Alan Doyle to provide funding for mental health services across the country.