“It felt like time to give folks the torchy ‘bar stool’ ballad,” Toronto-based jazz virtuoso Micah Barnes says of his sad yet sensual new single, “The End of a Love Affair” — available now.
It’s the latest to land from Barnes’ most recent and #1 iTunes Jazz Album charting and 500,000+ streamed album, Vegas Breeze, and follows the hard swinging version of “That’s Life,” his playful and wink-worthy take on “When In Rome,” and the celebratory sizzle that accompanied the release’s title track, “Vegas Breeze.”
“So yes, it was time,” he continues.
“Every Vegas entertainer seems to have that moment where they sit on a stool, in the middle of the spotlight, and sing about the heartbreak of a love affair gone wrong. It’s the flip side of the Vegas high life, when the glitter and neon have faded & our high rolling hero admits to being a loser in love..
“In some ways, ‘The End of a Love Affair’ is the perfect saloon song,” Barnes adds, offering its astute lyricism and gorgeous melody as indisputable evidence. “The listener never drowns in the emotion, but stays buoyed up in its mood of sophistication and intelligence.
“After all, what happens when we are suddenly alone at the end of a love affair?” he muses. “We may drink too much, talk too loudly, drive too fast, but hopefully we’re still in the game, hoping to love again. So the rhyming scheme of this song alone makes the singer sound ‘world-weary and wise’ rather than broken and desolate, which…
“How grown-up and true to life experience.”
It’s this very foundation and creative opportunity that attracted Barnes to the song in the first place. “What attracts a singer to a song? Is it the melody? The lyrics? The overall mood? Or is it perhaps the emotional response to another artist’s performance? With ‘The End of a Love Affair,’ it is for all of those reasons I was interested in working on my own version for Vegas Breeze.
“Like all tracks on the album, the arrangement for this song started with the band in our weekly creative sessions long before we hit the studio. The band and I chose to arrange the song as a sensual and slow Bossa Nova, and give it strings that swirled around the lonely trumpet; an intimate vocal heightens the feeling of dissolution and despair.
“Once pianist and arranger Michael Shand worked his magic re-harmonizing the verses, I felt we’d deepened the languorous mood and really put our own stamp on the song.
“Certainly, this little-known standard written by Edward Redding lands firmly in our #BeyondTheRatPack concept of avoiding the ‘regular Vegas playlist,’” he continues. “Many fine versions exist — including by Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra — but it’s actually Johnny Hartman’s 1956 Bolero version that made me excited to try it myself.
“After laying the bed track with the trio — including Russ Boswell on bass and Al Cross on drums — and getting that classic Bossa Nova feel on guitar with Rob Piltch, the next move was to bring in master trumpet man William Sperandei; his soulful playing makes this essentially a duet between two heartbroken guys, all surrounded by Don Breithaupt’s deliciously silky smooth string arrangement.
“The results perfectly express the kind of mid-century torchy ‘cool’ I was hoping to create on Vegas Breeze.”
The video was one of Micah Barnes’ most intricate and complicated to shoot in his career thus far, he says. “We gathered a top-level team — including our leading lady, Burlesque superstar Laura Desiree, plus Choreographer Dayna Tekatch (resident director of Come From Away), award-winning lighting designer Kimberly Purtell, and my long-time collaborator, director Carlos Coronado.
“We shot in six locations over seven shooting days, both before and after the ‘lockdown’ — including the legendary alternative theatre, The Theatre Centre, where I started my professional career.”
Which, speaking of…
Born in Vienna and raised in Canada, Micah Barnes cut his teeth in the cabarets and jazz clubs of the city while still a teenager, before touring the world as a member of the A Cappella vocal group The Nylons. A JUNO Award-nominee, the years since have seen Barnes developing as an International SOLO artist with top-charting hits including the Billboard #1 “Welcome To My Head,” & #1 Jazz Albums New York Stories & Vegas Breeze. Micah is also an internationally respected Vocal, Performance & Career Strategy Coach.
Most recently, Barnes completed a 14-date digital cross-country tour, a creative and inventive pivot in response to COVID-19 restrictions, and looks forward to the upcoming European release of Vegas Breeze in 2021, thanks to its Canadian success.
“I’m one very grateful jazz singer,” Barnes shares of the experience. “COVID-19 has effected so many people in so many ways, and I appreciate the opportunity to ‘travel’ into the ears and hearts of so many with this unique concert series we offered.”