After returning from a five-year sabbatical from music in 2015 with the intimate collection Campfires On The Moon—recently included in The Georgia Straight’s Top 50 all-time Vancouver albums—singer/songwriter, poet and playwright Rodney DeCroo’s musical evolution continues with his seventh full-length album, Old Tenement Man (Tonic Records).
It’s a sprawling work of unflinching roots-based rock and roll produced by Lorrie Matheson (Art Bergmann, Rae Spoon) at his Calgary studio Arch Audio, with its hard-boiled aspects cast in even harsher light through the new video for “Like Jacob When He Felt The Angel’s Touch.” DeCroo’s intense performance eerily marries Nick Cave and Johnny Cash, although, as with everything DeCroo does, it is nothing less than genuine.
Old Tenement Man continues DeCroo’s prodigious creative output since 2010, including an acclaimed poetry collection—and accompanying spoken word album—drawn from his childhood in Western Pennsylvania. He also mounted a one-man theatre show that toured western Canada, all of which touches on the addiction and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he has dealt with stemming from his early life as the son of a Vietnam veteran.
Although Rodney DeCroo’s quest for inner peace remains ongoing, the immense strides he has made over the past half-dozen years has finally borne fruit on Old Tenement Man, an album that finally places him in the upper echelon of Canadian singer/songwriters.
DeCroo’s Ontario and Quebec tour with his band kicks off Thursday and includes shows at Toronto’s Burdock Music Hall on July 20 and Montreal’s Barfly on July 21. For more details, go to rodneydecroo.com.
What makes Old Tenement Man stand apart from your previous work?
Lorrie Matheson’s production. It’s the first time we’ve worked together. It’s also more of a contemporary rock album than an alt-country or folk rock album.
Is there a song on the record that you feel best represents your current musical vision?
I think they all do. I wrote them and they’re all current.
As a writer of prose as well, what differentiates your poetry from your lyrics?
In poetry the words have to do all the work, while in a song the lyrics get a lot of help. In a poem, the words have to also be the music.
What’s been the biggest change in your life in the past year?
I no longer talk to anyone who carries a yoga mat. Ever. Best decision I ever made.
If you could change anything about the music business, what would it be?
I would be allowed to claim writing credits on any song I wanted and share in the royalties.