Carroll brothers back to indie roots with release of Sunday Morning, most of which was written on the road

Sons' Sunday best

The Halifax Herald - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

The Sons of Maxwell just want people to have fun. The Waverley-based duo - a.k.a. brothers Dave and Don Carroll - are releasing Sunday Morning, their eighth album and fourth of all-original music, Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Schooner Room in Casino Nova Scotia, Halifax.

And among the lessons they have learned in 11 years of performing, touring and recording is that people have limited entertainment dollars and want to spend those dollars in places that bring them pleasure.

"Someone said to me early on that we should be there to entertain not educate," says Dave Carroll. "We're entertainers first and if we can deliver a message great, but people come to see us to have fun and that's what we want to deliver."

Being entertainers rather than simply playing songs they like is one of the lessons the engaging pair have learned since their first gig in the campus bar while they were students at Carleton University in Ottawa, where Don studied psychology and Dave political science.

"We played covers of traditional songs and we were more sober than the audience which is a good place to start," joked Dave.

Those early years performing by the brothers who grew up in Timmons, Ont., are memorialized on the autobiographical Best Things.

"It covers our days playing in university for fun, and how our career goals changed, ending up in different places than we planned," says Don, noting they never expected to be playing music professionally but are happy with their career path and excited about the release of Sunday Morning, which brings them back to their indie roots, after a brief stint with a record label.

"A record deal looks like its all good and then you realize what you have to give up and hope the company can deliver what they promised, but if not you're better off being independent. We're much happier being in control," says Dave, who wrote or co-wrote each of Sunday Morning's 13 songs.

"If decisions that are made are wrong, at least they're our decisions. We've learned to value our own gut instincts."

Don notes that there are no traditional tunes on the album and fans won't be disappointed with S.O.M.'s evolution.

The disc differs from previous ones, including Among the Living, which won an East Coast Music Award for roots/traditional album in 2002, in that the music was mostly written on the road and was played for live audiences and demoed before they went into the studio to record, instead of recording first, touring later.

Sunday Morning includes three tracks, Whole Lot Lighter, You Let Me Love You and Sunday Morning, for which Mir's Asif Illyas did string quartet arrangements, adding an additional richness.

It also includes the first song co-written by Don and Dave, Like You Do, (they have worked together on arrangements on other tunes) and marked Dave's first experience penning songs with other writers.

He wrote Every Day of Your Life with Canadian country star Patricia Conroy and Daryl Burgess (author of Colin James' hit Stay) and I'm Willing with Jon Vezner (who won a Grammy in 1990 for Where've You Been co-written with fellow singer/songwriter Don Henry, recorded by Kathy Mattea).

Sunday Morning was recorded mainly in Montreal and mixed and mastered at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas by Terry Manning.

"Almost every big name has recorded there over time. They day we got there REM had just left and Alan Jackson was coming in," says Dave. "The experience Terry has shines through, it takes it up a notch."

But one thing that hasn't changed is the harmonies for which the brothers are famous.

"People think of Sons of Maxwell and think of the harmonies and this album delivers," says Dave, noting the brothers sing in the same range and switch back and forth singing high and low. "One of us sings high until he gets tired, then the other guy goes high."

Thursday's concert also features Jon Park-Wheeler on guitar, Stefan Morin on drums, Julian Marentette on percussion, Bruce Dixon on bass guitar and Stephen Muise on keyboards. Tickets are $12.50.

The duo, who have just signed up to be volunteer firefighters, can be heard playing a pub show at the Fife and Drum at the Casino Aug. 21 and 22 and are planning a Halifax Christmas concert, something they haven't done in a couple of years. And on the horizon is a 10-city tour of China in September 2005.

Sunday Morning is available in stores and on their website www.sonsofmaxwell.com.

By ANDREA NEMETZ / Entertainment Reporter

Web Development Company: Rockit Development