JUSTIN RUTLEDGE UNVEILS VALLEYHEART, HIS 5TH ALBUM IN STORES FEBRUARY 12, 2013
It has been almost three years since Justin Rutledge has released an album—the longest stretch between albums for the 33 year-old songwriter who was born and raised in The Junction, an old railway neighbourhood in the west end of Toronto.The quiet songwriter returns to his roots with a stately collection of spacious songs featuring Rutledge’s trademark poetic lyrics. “I wanted to write songs the way I look at old photographs,” the singer says. “Valleyheart is, at the core, an album about translating memory.” The album is spare in its arrangements, and at times, achingly slow. “At this point in my career, I understand that my strength lies in writing songs that don’t exceed the speed limit,” jokes Rutledge. “I have never been more comfortable with my writing.”
Valleyheart was recorded in Toronto with Rutledge’s veteran backing band, featuring his best friend Bazil Donovan (Blue Rodeo) on bass, and mixed in Los Angeles by Dan Burns (Puscifer, Chuck Prophet). Rutledge has increasingly been spending more time in California. “Travel is a major theme on Valleyheart,” says Rutledge. “It is perhaps my most ‘Canadian’ album to date, even though it is heavily influenced by California.” The first single “Amen America” (http://youtu.be/_8c_m_wgxhU) is Justin’s love letter to the US “I have acquired a deep fondness for America and the people I’ve met there although the country is beautiful, deeply troubled, and divided. “Amen America” is a song about a father and his daughter seeking refuge in memory as he searches for decent work and the hope for a new beginning as they travel the great country’s highways.” Rutledge also revisited some older, unfinished material on Valleyheart. “I began writing “Kapuskasing Coffee” and “Heather In the Pines” over a decade ago, but I never finished them. I thought it would be a good exercise to revisit some material I wrote when I was 21—I consider them to be a co-writes with my younger self and older self.”
During the time between the release of his last album up until now, Justin has become immersed in the world of theatre. His collaboration with Michael Ondaatje on the album The Early Widows lead to a role in the stage adaptation of the much loved novel “Divisadero” which had two separate and successful runs in Toronto. Most recently, Justin became involved with the Canadian Stage production of The Arsonists, being chosen by acclaimed director Morris Panych to be the musical director and performer of the famed production featuring such venerable Canadian actors as Michael Ball and Sheila McCarthy. “Working with such great actors and directors made me feel quite artistically focused,” Rutledge says. “Which is perhaps why Valleyheart is perhaps my most calm album.”
Rutledge’s other albums include No Never Alone (2004), The Devil On A Bench In Stanley Park (2006), Man Descending (2008), and The Early Widows (2010). He has twice been nominated for a Juno Award, and twice been long-listed for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize. Valleyheart is Rutledge’s first release on the Outside Music labeland will be released on February 12, 2013. The Arsonists runs at Canadian Stage until December 9.
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