"I like to record," says David Myles. "I have a feeling---I hope---that I will be someone who makes a lot of records. I don't want to limit my production too much in terms of my output. I really like making records, I'm just getting things going now."
The lanky, affable Fredericton native shot an arrow into Halifax's heart with his second album, Things Have Changed. His high-energy shows have been selling out for the past couple of years, especially since he opened for Sarah Slean at the Cohn just before Christmas of '06. He's known for playing in a dapper black suit, lips pulled back against his teeth, flawlessly transitioning from story to song and back again. Ironically, it's now that things have changed for David Myles: His new album, On the Line, reveals a young artist who's grown accordingly---but more notably than most---between records.
Part of that was the late start of Things Have Changed. Released in early 2006, the release didn't get its hooks in until later, when Myles picked up an International Songwriting Competition win for crowd-favourite clapalong "When It Comes My Turn," which snagged an ECMA nomination and won two Nova Scotia Music Awards.
"People didn't really know about that record, let alone my first record, for a year into it," he says over tea at Carlito's. "My first ECMA year came and went with that record, my first Nova Scotia Music Week came and went. It was the second year in its existence it got more attention. It bought me a whole bunch of extra time because that was a new record for a lot of people, even though it was an old record for me.
"We went in to record this one for fun, not with the intention of making a record right away. I didn't want to be too strategic about it, I didn't want to overthink it too much. I had the songs, I was feeling good about the songs, and I knew that I had a whole bunch of time to work on it and make it work like I wanted to. It was only as I got closer to having enough material that I decided to make it a record."
That record became On the Line---11 tracks spanning folk, blues and even gospel. Recorded at Echo Chamber with Things Have Changed's producer, Charles Austin, lyrically it balances relationships with social issues, sung with a new-found confidence. (He mentions Ray Charles, Al Green, Bill Withers and Prince as vocal inspirations.)
"I wrote these songs and then I had to figure out how to present them. I do think you choose the voice you sing with," he says. "Everybody has a voice and it takes a long time to find it. Different songs have different moods and they require different approaches. This one I didn't want to be too modest."
He's expanded his lyrical repertoire as well. "Activism is what I did before I became a musician and it's something I really care about. My favourite songwriters are Curtis Mayfield and Bob Marley, all these people who don't hesitate about singing about those things. And I think more people should sing about those kind of things, so I did it. 'I Don't Want to Know' is a song about climate change. There are relationship songs, but overall, it's kind of my hippie record," he says with a laugh.
"Also, it has to do with the reality of my situation. My relationship hasn't changed. I've been in a steady good healthy relationship." Myles will marry his longtime girlfriend, a CBC radio producer, this fall.
As for the title: "It was mostly because I noticed it came up a couple times," he says, shrugging. "And a lot of the record had to do with the idea of putting something at stake in order to get something back. It didn't have so much to do with, you know, 'I'm putting everything on the line.' Maybe I am, but that's probably no different than anyone else. It pertains to making art or making music---you eventually have to put yourself out there to see what comes of it."
David Myles CD release, Wednesday, June 11, Schooner Room, Casino Nova Scotia, 1983 Upper Water St, 8pm, $19, 451-1221.
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