Label: Universal Republic
With all of the 'Best Of...' lists flooding in for 2013, I thought I would take the logical step and have a look back at one of my favourite albums released...released last year that is. Bahamas is a Canadian singer-songwriter who cut his teeth playing guitar for artists such as Jack Johnson and The Weather Station. Barchords is his second solo release after his 2009 effort Pink Strat. And although he's pretty well-liked in his home country, securing a Juno Award nomination this year, his music really didn't seem to get the recognition it deserved here.
Bahamas (real name Afie Jurvanen) clearly perfected his art whilst sessioning for other musicians. Although the guitar is at the heart of this album, it's never overpowering. Jurvanen balances his delicate voice with the orchestral-ness of his guitar sounds, adding a woozy, airy atmosphere to proceedings. And when he does decide to kick back and really let his guitar do the talking, it's done to stunning effect on I Got You Babe.
With elements of folk, indie and 70s California - similarly evoked by Jonathan Wilson's Fanfare this year - Barchords also has a certain vulnerability to it and Jurvanen's lyrics are strikingly honest throughout. He croons on Be My Witness (I couldn't give you, all that you wanted/I couldn't even give you half of what you wanted if I wanted to) and then bemoans on Lost in the Light (If we would try again/Just remember when/Before we were lovers, I swear we were friends)- there's seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel here.
But that dour, hopeless tone isn't the prevalent theme (fortunately!). Jurvanen tempers it with upbeat lyrics referencing the past (Every time George sings here comes the sun...Every time Sam says a change gonna come...That's okay, that's alright, I'm alive) and closes the album with the most upbeat and poppy tune on the album in Where You Go. What a riff! The album is skilfully sequenced, and his song-crafting abilities shine throughout.
Listen for yourself below.