Gentleman Reg's Wallflower Blossoms

Gentleman Reg's Wallflower Blossoms
By the size of the splash that each of their records has made, you might have the impression that the Three Gut Records army was the dominant force in the Toronto/ Guelph corridor. But despite the impact of albums by the Constantines, Royal City, Jim Guthrie and now Gentleman Reg, the secret is that they all emerge from the same community that has formed the label's core from the beginning. Before Royal City's debut album, Reg Vermue was fronting a band consisting of drummer Nathan Lawr, bassist Simon Osborne, and Guthrie — essentially, Royal City not fronted by songwriter Aaron Riches. For his own sophomore effort, Gentleman Reg has reformed that band (largely subbing the Constantines' Bry Webb for Guthrie on guitar), nabbed the man who's become Three Gut's house producer Andy Magoffin, and is throwing his own coming out party. But Vermue's charismatic cabaret is far from RC's rough-hewn grit — his gentle, ethereal muse floats more than it stings.

Make Me Pretty is an beautifully assured effort; Reg puts a delicate touch on songs that are strong and muscular while remaining subtle and don't step on his high, light up-front falsetto. Being up front is a running theme for Gentleman Reg these days. "I'm really shy, but with this album I definitely came out of my shell more — this is definitely the coming out album in many ways, not just the traditional way. I'm being more blunt with lyrics, letting myself be vulnerable and putting it all out there."

His first album, 2000's The Theoretical Girl, was "not as much of the romance, more frustration — wanting [the romance] to happen, wanting to be this other person." This effort would form a beautiful triumvirate of broken-hearted longing with Julie Doiron and Snailhouse, proving that this wallflower is definitely blossoming. "I like that description," he says. "A little bit of a dandy, cute and shy with a soft and hushy voice. I actually tried with this record to be more blunt and direct so people would know what I was saying. That's really important to me." Though not all sunshine and lollipops — as with any romantic, there's an edge of cynicism and bitterness that glides through Make Me Pretty — it's part of his true-to-life vision. "There's a lot of love on the record. I was in that mode, going through these new experiences — and it made for good pop songs."