ICONIC TORONTO BAND INTERPRET THE WORK OF BYRDS SONGWRITER FOR NEW ALBUM, OUT MAY 13, VIA LATENT RECORDINGS
On Skydiggers’ new album, Here Without You – The Songs of Gene Clark, one of Canada’s most treasured bands interprets the work of one of the world’s most treasured songwriters. The album, to be released May 13 via Latent Recordings, is an eight song collection which covers, and in some cases radically reinvents, such timeless Gene Clark compositions as The Byrds’ classics “Eight Miles High” and “Feel A Whole Lot Better” in the JUNO Award winning Skydiggers’ equally timeless folk pop style. Delivered in a stark, haunting manner, the intimate album was recorded by Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies), who serves as producer.
“It seems like we’ve been fans of The Byrds forever, so to say that we’ve just discovered Gene Clark’s songwriting contributions to the band makes it seem like he’s been hiding in plain sight all of these years,” says Skydiggers. “In this discovery we have made a connection to our roots; not just to the roots of folk rock and the Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, or Gene Clark in the New Christy Minstrels, style of folk singing but back to the Appalachians and across the ocean to the songs of the Brits and the Scots. Our album Here Without You is our attempt to capture the essence of our roots as distilled through Gene Clark’s songs.”
Even if you’re not familiar with the name Gene Clark, there’s a good chance you know his music. He was a founding member of iconic 60s group, The Byrds, and went on to make many more solo records after parting with the band. Since his death in 1991 at 46, compilations and collections of unreleased material have added to his song catalog and songwriters and singers have been effusive in praising his work and raiding his songbook. Everyone from The Eagles and Tom Petty to This Mortal Coil; Linda Ronstadt to Paul Weller; Robert Plant & Alison Krauss to Teenage Fanclub have recorded his songs. Kanye West even sampled The Turtles’ version of Clark’s “You Showed Me” on his record My Beautiful Dark Twisted Life.
Guitarist Josh Finlayson explains, “the timelessness of Gene’s work is built on a traditional music foundation. But as we pulled the songs apart and listened to some demo versions of his songs, we began to hear how innovative and unusual his approach was; the way he could go from major to minor chords, the way the chords are suggested by the melody, his turns of phrase. It’s so unique.”
Singer Andy Maize adds, “Gene first found fame with The Byrds, but he cut his musical teeth as a folk singer. One of the goals of the record was to peel away the Sunset Strip sound of his best known recordings and rediscover the traditional core of the music.”
The record also shines a light on Clark’s lesser-known solo work. The title cut “Here Without You” is remade as a piano lament between Maize and singer Jessy Bell Smith. “One In A Hundred”, written for a 1970 scuttled Byrds reunion LP, is propelled by acoustic guitar with shadings of electric guitar. “So You Say You Lost Your Baby” takes on a sinister treatment with simmering feedback and white noise rumbles. The tricky, staccato lyrical flow of “Set You Free This Time” is expertly negotiated by Maize and Jessy Bell Smith.
Finlayson says, “it’s Gene’s sense of melody, his use of chords, his way with a lyric that we connected with so strongly. He never enjoyed the level of success or recognition he deserved during his lifetime, but his songs endure and it is a privilege to interpret his work.”
Here Without You is a singular achievement and finds common ground in the same generosity of spirit found in both Clark’s songs and more than 25 years of Skydiggers music.
“Skydiggers have always enjoyed including covers in our live shows, but there is something about Gene Clark’s songs that struck a deeper chord with us,” observes Maize. “This doesn’t feel like a tribute record, because the songs have always felt personal. It’s hard to explain, but they feel like something we would have or could have written — we’re just very glad Gene Clark did write them.”
HERE WITHOUT YOU – THE SONGS OF GENE CLARK TRACKLIST
- 8 Miles High
- Here Without You
- One in a Hundred
- Set You Free This Time
- Feel a Whole Lot Better
- The World Turns All Around Her
- So You Say You Lost Your Baby
- She Don’t Care About Time