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Rogue wave 

Halifax native Luke Doucet brings his once-Broken heart back to town this weekend. Shannon Webb-Campbell catches him in a good state.

The last time Luke Doucet was spotted among the streets of his hometown was during the Junos frenzy. Now the handsomely boyish troubadour returns for a solo stint at Stage 9 on August 26.

“It certainly will be a less chaotic affair than the Junos, though that was a good chaos,” says Doucet, calling from his apartment in Toronto. “I’ll be alone, no band. It will be an intimate affair, I’ll play some new songs that I’ve been working on, maybe even invite a few special guests.”

Doucet seems to harbour some resentment towards former enchantress Sarah Slean, as he muses about heartbreak, loss and hostility on 2005’s Juno-nominated Broken (and other rogue states), but the Romeo has replaced his Juliet—he recently married the avant-garde pop mistress Melissa McLelland. (Doucet recorded and produced her third release, Thumbelina’s One Night Stand, a smoky tribute to a fairy tale gone askew.) Aside from his melancholic, devilish solo endeavours, Doucet pays homage to his inner rock ‘n’ roller with his meat-coined outfit Veal, who have released Hot Loser, Embattled Hearts and Tilt ’O’ Whirl. His previous solo works include Six Shooter releases Outlaws (Live & Unreleased) and Aloha, Manitoba.

“Basically Broken, it’s a break-up record,” Doucet explains. “It’s autobiographical. I nearly drank myself to death for six months. It finally dawned on me how immature it all was, how did any of it differ from the commonality and ubiquitousness of traditional heartbreak.”

A vagabond lives at the root of this Halifax native, who spent his childhood in Winnipeg then wandered to Vancouver, then Toronto. Life on the road certainly lends itself to certain expenditures—promiscuity, abandoned lovers and excessive boozing. These days, Doucet seems to endure life on more sober terms and veers from self-indulgence, as he keeps the future of his young daughter Chloe in mind.

“I’ve written a lot about my family and myself. I do have a daughter. Songwriting is something that I do to fill up the cracks,” he says. “I’m trying not to be redundant about it. I write when I’m on the plane. I haven’t put time aside to write, which involves a concrete decision. I would like to sequester myself at some point in a cottage and write. I believe it would improve my songwriting, which is always a good thing.”

Doucet writes with bare-boned honesty and cajoles a candid autobiographical flair. Broken is reminiscent of an old drunkard at the bar, spitting prophecies, anecdotes, bittersweet resentments and tales of days gone by. At 33, Doucet has certainly learned the ropes—he’s worked alongside seasoned Canadians Chantal Kreviazuk, Oh Susanna, Delirium, Melissa McLelland and N.Q. Arbuckle, in addition to touring and recording with Sarah McLachlan.

“I learned a ton from Sarah. She’s a really gracious person, she treats people well,” he says. “It was over 14 years ago when we first worked together. She’s never been rude to anybody, when she could be. She’s sold over 25 million records and has her own empire, it’s kind of expected. I learned about the kind of person I wanted to be more than anything else. Sarah’s very patient, which is one of the most honourable qualities.”

If Doucet wasn’t performing, producing and touring the globe, he might reconsider the means by which he makes his bread and butter. According to the self-proclaimed outlaw, he would be coiled up in diplomatic relations, journalism or international law. Some paint, hunt or fish. Doucet ranks geo-politics top of the list of his favoured hobbies.

But music always prevails. Currently he’s recording a five-track EP to accompany the US release of Broken (and other rogue states).

“I don’t know what will happen in Canada, we may have an independent release. I want to write more, but not whine about being broken and drunk,” he says. “Being a performer I wrestle with things, my ego is involved with what I do. There are nights of applause and people wanting to see me perform. Sometimes I wonder where to go, where not to go. How much is too much?”

Luke Doucet w/Ruth Minnikin, August 26 at Stage Nine, Blowers at Grafton, 10pm $10adv/$12 door, 494-3890

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