Paul MacLeod Bright Eyes Fade

Paul MacLeod Bright Eyes Fade

It’s been six years since MacLeod’s Hawksley Workman-produced previous album Close And Play, so it’s not surprising that the Kitchener, ON native’s return to the solo spotlight is a well-crafted sample of the best material MacLeod accumulated during that time, which included stints with the Skydiggers and Martin Tielli. Fans of his regular appearances in southern Ontario will already be familiar with these songs but the real joy is hearing them in fleshed-out studio versions where MacLeod’s magnetic performing abilities, angelic voice and rare gift for melody can be fully appreciated. Although songs like "A Clear Thought,” "Lies” and "Blue” lean on his love of Brit-pop, his limitless capacity for melancholy is the album’s true hallmark, displayed poignantly on "Virginia” and "Bristol.” MacLeod even manages to put a unique twist on country blues with "Down In The Street,” which only reinforces the many timeless qualities of the album. Although MacLeod (by his own admission) has not been as active as he should have been over the past several years, Bright Eyes Fade is a huge step forward in rectifying that situation. With this album, he deserves to be recognised as one of Canada’s great contemporary singer-songwriters.

It took several years to make this album. What kept you believing in this material?
This was the first group of songs where I really let myself speak from the heart. I’d reached a space where I was willing to open up more and that had to do with me just feeling better about myself. Lyrically, I’ve felt at times really naked performing some of these songs, and that sort of became a confidence builder.

You’ve worked with some well-known producers in the past, including Hawksley and Ian Blurton. Why produce yourself this time?
I had an idea all along to make [this record] sparse. So the fact that everyone on the record bought into that idea made it a really easy process in the studio. I probably put as much work into sequencing the album, because there were definitely some songs that I felt needed to be in specific places.

Many of the songs actually are set in specific locations. Why?
Those songs came from real experiences, so basing them in the actual places gave me something I could see to help draw out those emotional memories. It goes back again to being honest with myself and not trying to write about places I hadn't been to or things I hadn’t seen. (Busted Flat)