Bahamas – [Album]

Friday, 14 August 2009

The beauty of some musicians is that – while there is a very strong six degrees of separation between them and some taste-making establishments (names, sounds) – they don't attempt to bandwagon-jump or coattail-ride their personal endeavors on the strength of someone else's sound or some associated name. They simply elect to run their own race.

Such is the case with Afie Jurvanen – aka Bahamas – and his new album, Pink Strat.

Resisting the temptation to remodel his own muses to resemble those of the musicians to whom he's lent his talent (most notably the Arts & Crafts roster including Feist, Jason Collett, The Stills, Amy Millan and Hayden as well as Great Lake Swimmers, Howie Beck and Zeus) and so drawn notice as a sideman, Pink Strat offers a different image of Jurvanen – an autonomous one.

There is no rush and no posture for Pink Strat as “Lonely Loves” gently surrounds listeners like a worn but still warm blanket and welcomes listeners in. With earthy, acoustic tones and a vocal presence that could best be described as what Jack Johnson might sound like after a session of the biggest bong hits of the smoothest weed in creation, Jurvanen simply lays out his vocals with sweet and assured good nature in songs like “For Good Reason,” “You're Bored, I'm Old,” “Already Yours” and “Let The Good Times Roll” without trying to really rock a grand or unique statement or earnestly to separate himself from his peers because he already knows he's a brand apart (so much of Canadian modern rock seems to relies on urgency and nervous energy as a hook, and that simply does not exist on Pink Strat; it would be abhorrent if it did). That unspoken renunciation of all things fashionable in Can-rock comes easy, and is actually heartwarming.

With little in the way of backing or assistance, Jurvanen makes hearts melt as the singer strolls through “Sunshine Blues,” “Already Yours,” “Let The Good Times Roll” and “Try, Tried, Trying” with occasional laughter, occasional tears and an always unassuming demeanor that has to be genuine because no one that isn't genuinely sweet and honorable can fake it as long as this album's run-time; it's just too perfect.

In the end, Jurvanen does the only thing he can to seal the deal as “Whole, Wide, World” patters to a close: he just lays his heart on the line and leaves it, hopeful that girl he's singing to will pick it up.

There is no resolution to that act of kindness here, but that is the most intoxicating thing about Pink Strat; by leaving the end of the story open, Jurvanen makes it possible to revisit the story over and over and not get bored because how it turns out is all left to the imagination and mood of the listener which, of course, can change every time through. By leaving it open too, like the best serial novels, listeners will want to see how it all turns out and wait in agony for the next instalment.


Bahamas myspace


Pink Strat
is out now and available as a Canadian import here on Amazon .

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