The Dears' Murray A. Lightburn Details New Album 'Once Upon a Time in Montreal'

Hear opener "Dumpster Gold" before the LP's March arrival

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Jan 19, 2023

Murray A. Lightburn has shared details of his third solo album. The Dears frontman will share Once Upon a Time in Montreal on March 31 via Danger Bird.

Following 2019's Hear Me Out, the eight-song Once Upon a Time in Montreal finds Lightburn once again teaming with producer Howard Bilerman (Leonard Cohen, the Weather Station, Godspeed You! Black Emperor) to craft what the artist jokes is "an audio version of a biopic" inspired by the passing of his father, the late Rev. William Lightburn.

As press materials explain, William Lightburn was a jazz musician from Belize who moved to Montreal via New York to reconnect with his teenage sweetheart. The two were married for 56 years, until his April 2020 passing in a Quebec nursing home where he'd been living with Alzheimer's. While he had abandoned music upon becoming a born-again Christian, he would later pick up the saxophone again to perform on a pair of Dears albums: 2006's Gang of Losers and 2008's Missiles.

Murray, the youngest Lightburn brother of three, explains that despite growing up with him, his father "was almost a complete stranger to me... I never knew how he felt about my career or the things I'd achieved — all of which I got from him." But through speaking with his mother upon his father's passing, "She painted a portrait of a man that I had never met in my life. I then pieced the story together."

Lightburn is joined on the album by Dears drummer Jeff Luciani and a host of Montreal jazz talents, with the music of Once Upon a Time in Montreal drawing on the folk, jazz and pop sounds of the late-'60s, early-'70s. Album opener "Dumpster Gold" arrives alongside today's announcement, and you can hear it below. 

The artist shares of the song, "About a year or so after my old man passed, my mom called and said, 'Murray, I've made a big decision: I'm selling the house.' She'd been there for 50 years. We were the only family that ever lived in it, one of many identical houses in a section of Brossard, Quebec. On our way out, we sifted through everything; most of it was going to the dump. There were many worthless treasures that were meaningful only to us. A couple of things now sit around my house. My father wasn't an expressive man to me. I am left with these fragments to piece together a connection to him."

In February, Lightburn will support Stars on tour through Europe and the UK, dates which you can find via his official website.

Pre-order Once Upon a Time in Montreal.

Once Upon a Time in Montreal:

1. Dumpster Gold
2. No New Deaths Today
3. In the Kingdom of Heaven
4. The Only One I Want to Hear
5. Oh But My Heart Has Never Been Dark
6. Reaching Out for Love
7. Once Upon a Time in Montreal
8. Girl You've Got to Let Me Go

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