On March 14, Canadian alternative country singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge will make his way into St. Catharines to promote his upcoming album Passages that will be released on May 31.
“We decided to do a few warm up shows to get the cobwebs out of the wheels as they say. I haven’t really been playing a heck of a lot over the last little while, so it will be nice to get the gears going again,” said the two time Juno nominee.
Recorded over 10 days, the ten track album (his eighth) was co-produced by Chris Stringer (Timbre Timber, Elliott Brood, The Wooden Sky) at Union Sound in Toronto. It features his new band member: Rob Baker from the Tragically Hip, who formed a friendship with Rutledge during the creation of Rutledge’s 2014 album Daredevil that paid tribute to the Hip.
Rutledge explained that Passages acts as a documentation of Rutledge’s life at the moment.
“A record is a time and place. It’s a good representation of what I was feeling at the time. We recorded it over a year ago, and I know people call fall out of love with their songs over time, but I have a lot of faith in these songs,” he said.
The first single, “Good Man” chronicles a friend of Rutledge’s, who was severely addicted to meth who ran away from life and had a “pretty harrowing experience.” The video was filmed in one shot and featured Rutledge acting out the character living in the back of a van.
Lyrics like “So you lost a year, but you won’t say where you’ve been / Did you fill your days with the wrong kind of medicine,” speak to the storytelling nature that Rutledge was seeking with this album.
“Ultimately, at the core of it, he is a really good guy and he made it through. The song is fairly self-explanatory. I can be vague at times with my writing, but with Good Man and this record, I wanted to be a little more overt or a little more conversational in tone,” said Rutledge.
Songs like “Allisonville” and “Belleville Breakup” centre around his new life in a small town dealing with relationships and hardships. Another, “One Winter’s Day” shows the confusion and disorder of mental health from a first person perspective. The closer “Boats” was written by Rutledge and famous writer Michael Ondaatje.
Now 40 years old, recently married, living in Prince Edward County with a son on the way, Rutledge said he doesn’t know where his future may go after participating in the music industry for 15 years.
“You reach a point where you think to yourself, I’ve got a family to support now, and I’ve got a child to think about. I’ll always write music, but whether than means I pass my time in another career, I don’t know,” he said.
“Maybe it’s something else involved in the music industry. I’m not entirely sure, but I’m not beholden to just sticking it out stubbornly as a Canadian songwriter for the rest of my life. Who knows. I think that that’s true with any occupation though. You sort of think back and say how my using myself how my using my using myself you know properly within my community and to make contributing an action a lot of existential ideas for.”