Bahamas First of His Name

Bahamas First of His Name
Photo by Reynard Li
For five years, Afie Jurvanen has performed as Bahamas. At the time, it was a convenient separation of his solo work from his associations with many other acts he has worked with — Feist, Jason Collett, the Weather Station and Zeus, just to name a few — but Jurvanen has gradually shed his other jobs and projects along the way. With his third album, Bahamas Is Afie, the seasoned Toronto vet is ready to make Bahamas his main focus, merging his pseudonym and real name together into what Jurvanen considers to be his self-titled statement.

"I'm much more comfortable with these songs, with making the album and just with the idea of being Bahamas," Jurvanen muses. "When I started out, it was just easier for it to be an art project that I could call Bahamas and have it be something over there that I did. But now, it's quite important to me. It's the only musical thing that I do, so I'm embracing my name and my music."

Jurvanen's self-proclaimed definitive album possesses many of his trademarks: confessional lyrics, laid-back tempos, all reinforced by superb riffs so expertly executed as if tying a neat ribbon around each track. "The guitar changed my life," he says, of his main musical tool. "It just makes me feel like a teenager again. I hope that I'm good at it." For the first time, Jurvanen also tackled most of the instruments on this record, instead of inviting a band into the studio with him, furthering the idea of Bahamas Is Afie as a self-portrait.

"When I was working on my own, I'd just realize a lot of my own musical ideas and I could act on those ideas a lot faster," he explains. The only other major player Jurvanen notes in these sessions is Don Kerr, best known as a drummer with Rheostatics and in Ron Sexsmith's band. The songs were laid in engineer Kerr's basement studio in Toronto, another first for Jurvanen, who adds that recording in his hometown was actually, "the most civilized recording experience I've ever had." Jurvanen would spend most of his time there running around from bass duties to the piano station; again, he likens this shuffling method to feeling "like a kid again."

But Bahamas Is Afie is anything but juvenile. Bahamas has undoubtedly matured throughout the years, from Pink Strat-slinging newcomer to multi-instrumentalist virtuoso. Opening track "Waves" unfurls with rhythmic and harmonic charm, all building up to wash over you during its climatic finale while single, "Stronger Than That," is an encouraging anthem that highlights Jurvanen's penchant for penning crisp pop melodies. And yes, he does it all with a signature ease. This is Afie Jurvanen at his best and he will happily leave his mark, and more importantly, his name on this.

"I can attach my name to this thing and I think it will hold up for a long time," he says. "I want something that's relevant and hopefully my name carries the weight of the songs."