Prolific Canadian songwriter Eamon McGrath follows up last year’s critically acclaimed Tantramar album with Guts, his seventh record in what is becoming a landmark outpouring of work from the thirty-year old Toronto based musician. In an exploration that began with Tantramar, McGrath expands on that album’s dark, introspective and atmospheric musical landscape that many call “Canadiana”: Americana’s darker, colder, Northern cousin. “I’m not interested in basing a career around the act of drunkenly jumping around onstage anymore. In all my years of touring,” McGrath reflects, “I remember the quiet, acoustic, intimate shows more than anything. Playing in a great-sounding hall in Innsbruck has stuck out to me more in the long run than any sweaty basement show in Vancouver.”
To record Guts, McGrath flew to Winnipeg with former Manitoban resident Gregory Millson (Great Lake Swimmers, Cold Specks) in the bone-chilling prairie cold with accomplished producer John Paul Peters (Tanya Tagaq, Propagandhi) at Private Ear Recording. Finishing touches were made months later in Toronto with young, up and coming studio wizard Braden Sauder behind the controls at Marquee Sound. Longtime McGrath collaborator Leah Fay (July Talk) offers her lush, airy vocals on songs like “In Like A Lion” and “Roadside Angel”. Edmonton-based country veterans Darrek Anderson (The Dungarees) and Tom Murray (Old Reliable) shine some light into the darkness of Guts in the form of Anderson’s glistening pedal steel, and the tones of Murray’s fibrous, sturdy upright bass.
The result is a far-reaching array of sounds and feelings, bridging all of McGrath’s now-trademark musical attributes including his howling, larynx-shredding vocals (“Guts”, “To Drink Only Water”) contrasted with tender songwriting (“Givin’ Up”, “In Like A Lion”). Now in his thirties, McGrath draws the line in the sand with Guts, entering a new decade with new sounds, a new attitude and a new perspective.
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