Rodney DeCroo Gets Poetic with 'Allegheny'

Rodney DeCroo Gets Poetic with 'Allegheny'
Rodney DeCroo is set to celebrate the release his new record, Allegheny, on Saturday (February 25), but as the prolific Vancouver-based singer-songwriter explains, fans should get ready for a change.

"Allegheny is a departure from my other records. I'm calling the material poem-songs," DeCroo tells Exclaim! "The lyrics were and are poems that I wrote for a manuscript that I expect to have published in 2013 by Nightwood Editions."

The switch-up in approach shouldn't come as too much of a surprise; DeCroo was a published poet before he became a roots-oriented musician known for such critically acclaimed albums as 2006's War Torn Man, 2008's Mockingbird Bible and 2010's Queen Mary Trash.

Allegheny is the initial release for a label DeCroo is starting called Barge Records, one he says "will focus on singer-songwriters and folk rock artists." His recent albums came out on Northern Electric, and Vancouver producer/guitarist Jon Wood was his chief collaborator on those records.

"Allegheny is pretty much the first record I've done without Jon," says DeCroo. "At some point you know that a creative collaboration, especially one as meaningful as I had with Jon, will end someday. You can only take it so far."

For Allegheny, DeCroo recruited Rob Malowany. "We'd done some demos for another record and I liked that process. I was very pleased with how intuitive he was and attentive to detail. I told him I had this strange idea of working up a group of poems as a record, and he was enthusiastic about it. He said, 'I think they can be something else. The poems can be enhanced with music.' He recorded me performing them and then spent several months composing and creating music in a collaborative process with me. I think he did a hell of a job."

All but one of the eight poems on Allegheny will be reprised verbatim in the lengthier book of poetry to be published by Nightwood.

"I consider the record as perhaps a primer for the book," DeCroo says. "A lot of the people I reach aren't necessarily heavily into Canadian poetry. My hope is they'll hear the poems on the record and go 'Okay, this is accessible. I'll buy a book of this as it's something I can relate to.'"

DeCroo will celebrate the release of Allegheny with a Vancouver release show on Saturday. It takes place at the Gallery Gachet with special guests Doug Andrews, Mark Haney, the Minimalist Jug Band and Fraser Mackenzie also performing. DeCroo will be accompanied by Haney.

"[Haney] plays upright bass, and he's very innovative in the sounds he gets out. He has been accompanying me at shows for songs on another record I've been working on, and we've expanded what he does with me into presenting the poetry live. I don't have touring plans currently for Allegheny, as we're applying for grants. We envision a much bigger multimedia production."

The busy DeCroo is already readying songs for another more conventional singer-songwriter record. "It's called Campfires on the Moon. Most of the tracks have been sent to Toronto, as I'm collaborating with Great Aunt Ida, who will be singing and playing piano on most of the songs," he says.

Allegheny is available digitally now over here at CD Baby, with the album also set to be released on vinyl.