THE SHEEPDOGS – CHANGING COLOURS
Ewan Currie – vocals, songs, guitars, clarinet, drums
Ryan Gullen – bass, backing vocals
Sam Corbett – drums, backing vocals
Shamus Currie – keyboards, trombone
Jimmy Bowskill – guitars, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, pedal steel
For a new album that The Sheepdogs didn’t initially set out to make, Changing Colours is a stunning achievement....
Proud purveyors of guitar-driven modern-day retro rock, the triple Juno Award-winning Saskatoon-based quintet has expanded its sound on Changing Colours to encompass more styles and hues to enhance the Sheepdogs’ trademark beef-and-boogie twin-axe riffs, hooks, shuffles and long-haired aesthetic.
“We identify strongly with rock ‘n roll, but there’s definitely some branching out,” says Ewan Currie, The Sheepdogs’ singer, guitarist, songwriter and occasional — and yes, you’re reading this correctly — clarinetist. “The sounds we use on this – there’s more keyboards featuring Shamus and more stringed instruments. It’s still rock ‘n roll but there are more colours.”
It’s also great, passionate music born out of spontaneity: first resonating in the 17-song album’s euphoric opener “Nobody” and continuing to flavour such invigorating numbers as the electrifying “Saturday Night” and the driving “I’ve Got A Hole Where My Heart Should Be,” the record’s infectious first single.
But The Sheepdogs haven’t only stretched their sonic palate: they’ve also expanded stylistically, tastefully embracing other genres as well.
There’s the country-lite feel of “Let It Roll,” the Stax-soul aura of the mid-tempo anthem “I Ain’t Cool” that features trombone -\-\ and the resplendent Latin-rock vibe that fuels “The Big Nowhere.”
This is what occurs when The Sheepdogs are left to their own devices:
when the band completed its global responsibilities in promoting its fifth album, 2015’s Future Nostalgia, the band took a busman’s holiday, renting Toronto’s Taurus Studio and hiring its owner, Thomas D’Arcy, to engineer and co-produce whatever emerged from their creative loins.
Start Time: 8:00
“HOW TO BE OKAY ALONE.” That’s what Brent Cowles scribbled in a notebook one afternoon as he grappled with the complexities of his newfound independence. It was meant to be the start of a list, a survival guide for navigating the solitude and loneliness of our increasingly isolated world, but instead, it turned out to be a dead end recipe for writer’s block.
“I realized then that I actually didn’t know how to be okay alone,” reflects the Denver native. “But I also realized that it was okay not to know.”
A deeply honest, intensely personal portrait, the record channels loss and anxiety into acceptance and triumph as Cowles learns to make peace with his demons and redirect his search for satisfaction inwards. Blurring the lines between boisterous indie rock, groovy R&B, and contemplative folk, the music showcases both Cowles’ infectious sense of melody and his stunning vocals, which seem to swing effortlessly from quavering intimacy to a soulful roar as they soar atop his exuberant, explosive arrangements.
Growing up, Cowles first discovered the power of his voice singing hymns at his father’s church in Colorado Springs. Having a pastor for a parent meant heavy involvement in religious life, but Cowles never quite seemed to fit in. At 16 he fell in love with secular music; at 17 he recorded his first proper demos in a friend’s basement; at 18 he was married; at 19 he was divorced. Meanwhile, what began as a solo musical project blossomed into the critically acclaimed band You Me & Apollo, which quickly took over his life. The Denver Post raved that the group created “some of the most exciting original music in Colorado,” while Westword proclaimed that their live show was a “clinic in roots rock mixed with old-school swing and blues,” and Seattle NPR station KEXP hailed “Cowles’ Otis Redding and Sam Cooke inspired vocals.” The band released two albums and toured nationally before they called it quits and amicably went their separate ways.
The parting was a necessary but difficult one for Cowles. In the ensuing months and years, he would find himself alone more than ever before, at one point living out of his Chevy Tahoe just to make ends meet. But rather than break him, the experience only strengthened his resolve, and ‘How To Be Okay Alone’ finds him thriving in the driver’s seat as a solo artist, making the most of solitude while still appreciating that it’s only human to need love and friendship.
“Hell if I know how to be okay alone,” Cowles reflects on it all with a laugh. “All I know is that I’m grateful for the people that I have, because I don’t think that anyone can get through this life by themselves.”