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Jon Samuel’s First time 

Wintersleep member releases his debut solo record, First Transmission as part of the Halifax Urban Folk Festival.

click to enlarge Bloomin' Jon Samuel
  • Bloomin' Jon Samuel

You probably recognize Jon Samuel's face. Chances are you recognize his name, too. He's been making music locally for years, lending his chops to many Halifax-based bands you've jammed to, most notably playing guitar and keys for beloved indie rockers Wintersleep. But it's about time you familiarize yourself with him...just him. Jon Samuel the songwriter. "As long as I've played music I always considered myself a songwriter. For me much of that initial writing process is solitary," says Samuel, whose debut release as a solo artist First Transmission is only days old. "Splitting my musical life between playing in Wintersleep and writing my own songs, it seemed practical to try and get these songs and arrangements finished on my own first. Decide how to present them to the world later." Born in the spring of 2011 when Samuel began tracking some of his songs in his Montreal apartment, the dreamy 10-song record's depth was built on a simple foundation. "I don't often concern myself with the more technical side of writing vocal melodies. I rarely consider things like the amount syllables per line," says Samuel. "I find that building these songs with simple chord progressions gives you more room for messing around with the notes in a vocal melody and the wording of lines. It's less cerebral. Often times the simplicity is just what comes out." And that simplicity works in his favour, resulting in a collection of dynamic songs that are simultaneously heavy, and weightless. Sticking with what comes naturally, Samuel will be joined onstage this Saturday with his former Slight Return bandmates Chris Pennell and Matt Kennedy as well as fellow Wintersleeper Tim D'eon (who co-produced First Transmission) to celebrate the record's release. –Allison Saunders

Saturday September 1, Neptune Studio Theatre, 1593 Argyle Street, 8pm, $15

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