Doug Paisley is having an identity crisis. When describing his sound, critics…
- Posted on Nov 5th 2010 12:30PM by Lonny Knapp
No Quarter Records
His recently released sophomore effort, 'Constant Companion,' is as familiar and formidable as the Prairie plains, and features guest turns by fellow Canucks Feist and the Band's Garth Hudson.
For Feist's contribution, she drops in and whispers her way into the listener's heart on the track 'Don't Make me Wait,' a he-said-she-said duet worthy of a Plant/Krauss cover. It's fitting to have her on hand as the two singers are members of Toronto's tight-knit musical community and have shared the stage on occasion. They are friends, but Paisley says he never took for granted that she would agree to appear on his record.
"It was a shot in the dark. But when you have the opportunity to have someone like that sing a duet with you, you have to ask," he tells Spinner.
Paisley describes Feist as a "very friendly, kind, and generally low-key person," but says that once the proverbial tape was rolling it became clear why she has become an international superstar.
"It's easy to forget what a powerhouse she is," he says. "In the studio she becomes this different being, and when you listen to the playback, you realize what sort of talent you are dealing with."
When asked to comment on the collaboration, Feist offered the following honeyed critique: "I love his songs and his way with words fits my life like a worn-in old shoe; you know, comfortable and familiar but helps me bound around and climb and leap, and ponder the things I've gotten too used to with fresh eyes. I was really proud to sing with Doug."
Paisley's other all-star collaborator, former member of the Band, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, and musical mad scientist Garth Hudson, weaves inimitable and feverish keyboard lines on a number of tracks including lead-off single 'No One But You.'
As a member of the Band, Hudson backed up 'Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan before recording hits such as 'Up On Cripple Creek,' and 'The Weight.' It's been 34 years since the Band's legendary Last Waltz concert at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom, but according to Paisley, despite many years out of the spotlight, Hudson's musical chops are in fine form.
'He literally came into the sessions, sat down, read the chart, and nailed it,' he says.
Paisley, who admits that he's huge fan of the Band, said that working with the a musical hero was both an "honour and a milestone," and credits the veteran for inspiring the recording sessions.
"Having the presence of that kind of player really invigorates the rests of the band; everyone was that much more excited, and he helped us capture really special performances," he says.
Hudson, on the other hand, had never heard of Doug Paisley, but agreed to the session after receiving a glowing recommendation from mutual friend, producer Daniel Lanois. In the era of Auto-Tune, he applauds Paisley for capturing authentic performances live off the floor.
"Doug is a great songwriter, a helluva guitar player, and a real musician. We just got together in a room and played, I don't think there were a lot of overdubs," he says.
In turn, Hudson, now in his 70s, believes playing with younger musician like Paisley keeps him sharp. He compliments Paisley's vigour and talent, and says the collaboration left him reminiscing about his salad years.
'He's got the fire and you can hear the hunger in Doug's voice," he says. "I feed off that enthusiasm; it reminds me of how I once was."
Paisley is the type of low-profile artist that sets critics to raving and fellow musician's tongues to wagging.
In 2008, the UK's MOJO magazine included his self-titled debut in its Best of the Year list, and his sophomore album is already receiving glowing reviews.
Despite critical acclaim and accolades from established musicians, Paisley remains relatively unknown. The collaborations with Feist and Hudson on his excellent sophomore album are helping to create a buzz, though, and upcoming tours lined up in the US and Canada should also increase his exposure.
For now, Paisley says he's well aware of his station.
"Things have moved forward right now, but I'm nowhere near the level where I have to un-list my phone number," he joked.