Spencer Burton on Changing Names, Accordions and 'Don't Let the World See Your Love'
Published Sep 15, 2014Most of Spencer Burton's fans know him as Grey Kingdom, and if it weren't for his mother, it probably would have stayed that way. When the London-via-Welland, ON troubadour shared his first two solo albums with his mom, she thought he was merely the cover model. After some confusion, Burton eventually got her to realize those were in fact his songs. "Well," she replied, "who the hell is Greg Kingdom?"
Consequently, Don't Let the World See Your Love, set for release tomorrow (September 16) via Dine Alone, is Burton's first release under his own name. While the new disc offers some departures from previous efforts, its acoustic aesthetic, longing lyrics and calm soundscapes should be familiar to Grey Kingdom fans; the changes are more in name than in sonic identity.
Much like his last record, Light, I'll Call Your Name Out "Darkness", the new album comes out of dark times, Burton tells Exclaim! "This time around, even though my life is just as dark as it used to be, I've realized you can't always sing about the stuff that makes you sad."
He says that Don't Let the World See Your Love was written primarily while travelling, camping and spending time alone across Canada. "I had a lot more time to think and reflect about whatever life handed me over those few years," he says. "I wrote the album everywhere and about lots of different things."
To create the album, though, Burton returned home to Welland, where he recorded in the house studios of musician and producer Mark Lalama and former Attack in Black bandmate Daniel Romano.
A roster of contributing musicians, something Burton hadn't fully tapped before, also helped shape the album's sound. A particularly notable addition: Lalama's accordion.
"I never in a million years would have thought of putting accordion on a record before," Burton says. "There's a stigma with accordion. You hear it and you think 'Weird Al' Yankovic. But in reality, it's one of the most powerful instruments, if played properly. Lalama did his parts in his studio and Dan and I were sitting there on the couch listening to him play and thinking about every terrible and every good thing in our entire lives. Our eyes were welling up."
The songs, Burton says, are still evolving — particularly in what they mean to him.
"I'm an impatient guy, so half of these songs I wrote weeks prior [to recording]. I was still learning what they were about. They grow in a weird way. Listening to my own music makes me grow as a person because I'm realizing what I was trying to get across to people — or get across to myself."
But he says with certainty that the album takes its name from a feeling of being too vulnerable, both as a storyteller on stage and elsewhere in life.
"I was too open and too honest, and I let everyone see everything all the time," he says. "I let it all out in the songs now."
You can listen to Don't Let the World See Your Love here; see below for upcoming tour dates.
09/18 Toronto, ON – Toronto Centre for the Arts
11/27 Toronto, ON – Rivoli
11/28 Ottawa, ON – National Arts Centre *
11/29 Ottawa, ON – National Arts Centre *
12/04 Calgary, AB – The Gateway
* with Jenn Grant