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
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