John Wort Hannam is releasing his long-awaited seventh album just in time to open the new season for the Geomatic Attic, Sept. 9.
“I love the Geomatic Attic and I wanted to do a hometown show in the city where I live,” said Hannam. He officially releases his new CD, “Acres of Elbow Room,” Sept. 7.
He took a different approach to recording the new CD, recording it over eight days at the Banff Centre in December with bandmates upright bassist Jason Valleau, keyboardist Steve Fletcher and drummer Jon May.
“It was definitely a more collaborative process,” Hannam said.
“We were able to spend a lot more time working on arrangements for the songs and tempos , removing verses. That’s why all four of us are listed as producers. Before, the band would record arrangements I’d already written.”
“We looked at it as a job. We’d get up in the morning and have breakfast, go into the studio and work until noon and break for lunch then go back to the studio,” he said, noting they have been playing together long enough to make that kind of collaboration work.
“We’ve been playing together long enough to accept constructive criticism so nobody gets their knickers in a knot when we say this part should be removed or changed,” he said.
“It was important to get everyone away from daily life and distractions. You don’t have to cook or pick up the kids because all of that is taken care of and you and focus on creating,” Hannam said, adding he had played a few of the songs before including the title track and the one cover, “The Quiet Life,” written by Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson.
“I just love that song. Usually I’d write the songs and tour on them, but I didn’t have the luxury of doing that this time, though it still felt like a luxury to do it this way,” he continued, adding he decided to record at the Banff Centre after falling in love with the place after doing a songwriting retreat there in March 2017.
“It was definitely a break from what we usually do,” he said.
For something different again, he also got the Fleetwood Bawden Grade 5 Choir to sing on “Only Love.”
“It’s right around the corner from my house. My son goes there. So I thought it would be fun to have kids sing on ‘Only Love.’ Because we have to remember, especially in times like these, the importance of love. So they sing on the chorus ‘Only love can save us now,’” he said.
“It was pretty informal. I just put one of those Zoom dictaphones with three microphones on the desk and we all sang around it,” he said, adding it is reminiscent of the kids’ choir singing on Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In the Wall (Part 2).”
“It’s funny. When I took it to Montreal for mixing, the producer Howard Bilerman started singing that,” he chuckled.
It is his most personal of all of his albums.
“This is the first time there haven’t been any characters or stories. I feel over the years I have got a lot better at songcraft, thinking about tempo, meter and rhyme scheme,” he said.
“It is also the first album, where I haven’t really thought about whether people will like the songs or not, I wrote them for me.”
“I feel I’ve got more confident about writing about myself, ” he said.
He will be doing a few short tours of B.C., Alberta and Ontario as well as the East Coast.
“Now that I have a son, I don’t want to be on the road for months at a time. That’s what ‘Song For A Young Son’ is about,” he said.
He ran a successful crowdfunding campaign for the CD.
“That was fun, I’d do that again. I wanted to raise $10,000 in a month and I raised $16,000. Doing the mail-outs wasn’t as much fun. I spent $1,000 of that on postage,” he observed.
He offered a variety of unique incentives like homemade soap and tea towels.
“I even wrote some love poems for it,” he said.
“Acres of Elbow Room” will be officially released on Sept. 7. He opens the Geomatic Attic season on Sept. 9. Tickets are $32.50 for that show.
The Attic’s season also includes Kat Danser and the Tall Tails, Oct. 18, Kim Churchill, Oct. 29, Birds of Chicago, Oct. 30, Reuben and the Dark at Southminster United Church, Nov. 3 and Joey Landreth, Nov. 25.