VANCOUVER, B.C., Canada – The Clumsy Lovers have logged 1,500 live performances and untold road miles in their ten year history. And with their forthcoming album, Smart Kid (Nettwerk Records), they continue a simple tradition set with its predecessor After The Flood: approach the album with the same adventurous spirit in which they approach the stage, without merely duplicating their live sound.
The album, due out on June 7, is their second for Nettwerk and their seventh altogether.
The happy-go-lucky Vancouver quintet has made an album that expertly walks the tightrope between tradition-minded roots music ("Raging bluegrass Celtic rock," a reviewer once said) and sparkling modern pop. In trying to please no one but themselves, The Clumsy Lovers have conceived a collection of songs that may prove to please damn near everyone.
Like After The Flood, Smart Kid was produced by John Webster (a studio keyboard player with a long list of recording credits including Aerosmith, Cher and The Cult, and has recently has turned to the production end of music) who encouraged the band to have more fun in the studio. The band has long felt at home on any stage, whether in front of 50 raucous patrons at a roadhouse or thousands of music lovers at a festival or concert hall. But the band previously viewed the studio as a necessary evil a domain in which to make audio souvenirs for audiences to take away from Lovers live shows. Those older recordings were reasonably accurate documents of the band's onstage sound, but they were hardly the sort of artifacts that would help take them to the next level.
"For a long time I was a big proponent of 'Make sure your CD represents your live show,' especially for us because we tour so much. And, before After the Flood, 95% of our sales were off-stage," explains band spokesman Chris Jonat. "I'm a late learner, but what works live doesn't necessarily work in the studio, and vice versa. More than I ever did before, I view them as two separate art forms. You definitely still want it to sound like you, but what bears repeated listening is different from what's fun to hear in the pub or in the concert hall."
The band is comprised of Jonat, bass and vocals; Jason Homey, banjo and mandolin; Andrea Lewis, fiddle and vocals; Gord Robert, drums; and Trevor Rogers, guitar, vocals, harmonica and percussion.
From the rollicking story-in-song "Bobby Banjo" to the bittersweet knees-up "Coming Home" to the mournful and poignant "Not Long For This World," Smart Kid is the Clumsy Lovers' long-playing pinnacle and a strong suggestion that, after having come so far, the band is only going to go further, get better.
Long may they clumsily stumble from strength to strength.