Slow Leaves is the project of Winnipeg singer/songwriter Grant Davidson, whose poetic lyrics and lilting melodies often recall the classic California country-folk that dominated the ‘70s. Still, the heart of Slow Leaves lies in the music asking the unanswerable questions and reflecting on life’s everyday mysteries.
On the latest Slow Leaves album, Enough About Me, out Aug. 11, Davidson gets even more personal, despite what the title suggests. Self-produced and born of the demos he recorded in his Winnipeg basement, the album’s ten songs feature contributions from frequent collaborators Jason Tait (Bahamas, Weakerthans), Rusty Matyas (Imaginary Cities, Sheepdogs), Julie Penner (Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think) and others.
While coming up through Winnipeg’s coffeehouse scene, Davidson released three albums under his name before switching his moniker to Slow Leaves for the 2014 album Beauty Is So Common. The following year, Slow Leaves garnered further attention for his selection in the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class. Now after that three-year gap, Enough About Me begins a new chapter for Slow Leaves that will continue to unfold with a Canadian tour kicking off Aug. 30 in Edmonton. For more details, go to slowleaves.com.
What makes Enough About Me stand apart from your previous work?
My approach to songwriting hasn’t changed much since my last albums. I’m still primarily seeking to uncover some self-aggrandizing inner truth. The main difference this time around was that I wanted to produce the record myself. My last album, Beauty Is So Common, was produced by my good friend Rusty Matyas and I learned a lot from seeing how he approaches recording and builds arrangements. It inspired me to get a simple recording set-up at home and start experimenting and making demos. I was interested to see what ideas would come about with no one else in the room influencing me.
Are there any particular songs that you feel capture your overall vision for the record?
I think “Love and Honesty and Kindness” was the first of this group of songs to come along. I often try to write songs to capture some wisdom that I can use to remind myself of the important things as I might define them when I’m trying to sound smart. There are a couple of other songs on the record that came with a similar mindset. I think if any, a self-directed attempt at wisdom might be the theme lurking beneath the music on this album.
As a Winnipeg-based artist, how would you describe the music scene there at the moment?
I don’t get out to as many shows as I’d like so I can’t profess to be the authority on all things music in Winnipeg. I think like most cities; we’ve seen some venues struggle and change ownership because live music is a challenging industry. However, there’s never been a shortage of great musicians and songwriters here. Great music happens here every night, and I know many inspired people working to support the talent in this city. In that sense, there’s always a good scene for those looking to find it.
What do you recall about your first time performing in public?
I started learning guitar at 15. I wrote some songs but was terrified, like most people, to sing in front of anyone. My first performance was for a select few friends in the pitch black of my basement bedroom with the lights out so that I could sing under the illusion of anonymity. Luckily I had supportive friends who, perhaps appreciating my vulnerability, gave enough enthusiastic feedback, feigned or genuine, as to not quell my musical aspirations at that tender time.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written?
Writing songs is a very personal process for me so I can’t say I wish I wrote anyone else’s songs because I’d have to have lived a life that is not my own. However, I’d happily collect royalties for another’s work if that were a choice. This said, there are songwriters out there that write with a poetic clarity that I strive for, perhaps in vain. “Maybe” by Dan Reeder jumps out to me because I think it’s a perfect example of an ambitious song with a profound message distilled into a handful of beautiful and digestible verses. That ability is what separates the great songwriters from the rest, in my view.