Around the time Shara Gibson's “Singapore” single got out, we caught an early listen to the smoke strung number “Man Like You”. The Toronto-by-LA chanteuse takes the old Vanguard folk trails with a songwriting style that keeps on the wave of creative songwriting sensibilities found in the wave and wealth of current Canadian artistry. “Like You” shares some of Gibson's magic found in the vast majesty of what she creates in a mode of assembled minimalism.
The percussion starts like a swift sparking metronome, kicking into a lonesome ballad. Old Zane Grey paperbacks to Bret Harte folk tales litter the mind in the areas between the acoustic guitar strum's resonance and every time Shara sings the word, “darling.” With a confessed love for Beach Boys' bad boy Dennis Wilson, Gibson told us about her attraction to the huge sounds and oceanic sized emotions found on Pacific Ocean Blue, hinting at how this gentle vastness may have informed her own sound. Like the twentieth century students of modern folklore, Gibson keeps the heart strings searching, and softly strumming.
Gibson talked with us for a bit about the lesser sung Beach Boy, songwriting, the Toronto to LA adventure, and more.
This first version of “Man Like You” sounds like a timeless folk ballad. What is the story behind writing and recording such a sparse and evocative bit of romantic melancholia?
Well, it is a ballad. It’s a heart break ballad. Heart break is timeless. ‘Man like you’ came up from a personal experience. It was an honest attempt at turning something painful into something beautiful.
What song writing methods do you regularly employee, or do you have a kind of happenstance approach that depends on the day, time of day, where you are, how you're feeling kind of way?
The songs are 100% happenstance. I don’t have a particular formula I follow. I write when I feel something. I’ll take melodies/ideas and share them with my brother and two other Toronto based musicians, Luke Nares and Gerard Suyao—in this way the songs will develop. I just have to be on the ball when the ideas come so that they are not lost.
I was reading that you were a Dennis Wilson fan, what is it about his music that has drawn you to his solo works Pacific Ocean Blue / Bambu and his understated songs with the Beach Boys (a la “Be Still”)?
I’ve always loved Dennis. It was especially cool for me to get into Pacific Ocean Blue following my love for the Beach boys. I experience Dennis differently every time. There’s a melancholic quality with him that I really relate to. That album is particularly big – the sounds are huge and his emotions are as big as the ocean they seemed to have come out of. I like the vastness it portrays.
As you are planning on making your way from Toronto to LA, interested in hearing your plans on closing out 2013 and ringing in 2014 in LA fashion.
Yea, it’s a bit of that age-old adventure story, where one packs up their life and throws them self into something entirely new. I carry that sparseness you mentioned into my own life. I am meeting with a couple producers here in LA. Very excited to cut some tracks and share them with everyone in 2014. I might sneak home to kick it for new years. I live on a 500 acre ranch in northern Ontario. It’s a beauty.
What can you tell us about what's in the works with your collaborative side project with Chains of Love's Nathalie Pizarro?
I met Nathalie in Toronto about a year ago. I watched her perform and thought she was fantastic. I think we jive really well together. We have a mutual love for Rock and Roll and music in general. We plan on working on some bits while I am in LA. I’m pretty excited about it.
Toronto always seems to have cool things happening at all times, who are some of your favorite recent Toronto artists?
Might David Clayton Thomas or The Band be considered recent? I mean, those are the guys I’d say I listen to most often from Toronto, hah. I have a lot of love and respect for Feist. She has done great things coming out of Toronto. Most recently, though – I dig July Talk.
Shara Gibson's debut EP will be available in early/mid 2014.