Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Harbour Boys” by the Joel Plaskett Emergency from the 2012 album Scrappy Happiness on Maple Music.
When his band of eight years, Thrush Hermit, broke up in 1999, Canadian songwriter Joel Plaskett began his solo career, but it wasn’t until he teamed up with the backing duo of drummer Dave Marsh and bassist Tim Brennan (also known as The Emergency) that Plaskett’s career started taking off. Since his inaugural outing with Marsh and Brennan in 2001, Plaskett has toured on four continents, produced or performed on a number of albums nominated for the Polaris Music Prize, and picked up a handful of Juno nominations, including a nod in 2006 for Songwriter of the Year. (He shamelessly lost to “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire.) Now on his fifth album with the Emergency, Plaskett is moving gracefully into the elder statesman role he’s somehow always embodied. Shimmering with melodies recalling latter-day Springsteen, “Harbour Boys” finds Plaskett trading the Emergency’s punchy rhythm in for the tone of a 12-string acoustic guitar. Armed only with his voice and his guitar, Plaskett rallies against the troubles of this world, encouraging the listener to lose themselves in a record sleeve or a sunset, and with a voice as quiveringly earnest as his, it’s hard not to.
Joel Plaskett has a trio of Canadian solo shows planned in February, but if he announces any other tour dates for 2013, you’ll hear about them first on his website and Facebook. Watch a video of Joel playing a solo acoustic version of “Harbour Boys” for the Canadian Broadcasting Company below.