I’m a little late to Doug Paisley’s, Constant Companion, listening party. It’s fitting that my formal introduction to the Toronto born songwriter’s 2010 sophomore record came via a tribute CD to Neil Young’s Harvest. A record of cover interpretations (worth your time & money to find, MOJO Magazine) tackles Young’s 1970’s commercial milestone elegantly. Paisley opens up the fellow Canadian’s tribute record with Out on The Weekend. After many repeat listens it led me to his own 2010 release, Constant Companion.
Continuing the Canadian quilt of musical camaraderie, Paisley’s ‘Companion’ features the assistance of fellow countrymen & women. Garth Hudson (The Band), Bazil Donovan (Blue Rodeo), and Leslie Feist, are amongst its guest star performers on a few songs. Though noticeable, those performances never outweigh or demand attention over the songs or Paisley’s lead, providing a soft pocket for Paisley’s well crafted words to sit between.
The opening song, No One but You, sets the comfortable pace early by drawing the listener’s attention deeper into the subtle cracks of Paisley’s smooth, country-soul voice. Following the intro are 8 successive songs, carefully crafted and arranged with country folk melodies that support themes of loneliness and self-conflict. Rather than going to the depths of depression ‘Constant Companion’ hints at, the songs narrators are often rescued with lessons in love, and by forgiveness for one’s self- our own worst enemy should let go, love a little.
You’ll find yourself comparing his songs to the likes of respected, modern day, songwriting peers (M. Ward, Will Oldham), or masters of the genre (Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot). Like those artists’ songs you’ll also notice the seasonal pull in Paisley’s songs; the mastering of melancholy made for the late days of fall, often short and sweet, but strong enough to get you through the long, cold, months of winter.
The beauty of Neil Young’s Harvest, for something as sparse as it is, rewards new discoveries with each passing year, season, and listen. This year’s round about reflections are how I first heard of Doug Paisley, and his short, sweet, warm and very memorable, companion.
AW | andy whorehall
SMS Ed. Note: Doug Paisley is also a member of the audio/visual band, Dark Hand & Lamplight. They’ve occasionally toured and have played with Bonnie Prince Billie (Will Oldham).