We live in a world that increasingly celebrates youth and beauty in snapshots and doctors’ reality to taste, all while ignoring the value to be found in people and things with age, history and experience. Accomplished Guelph, ON-based blues/roots singer-songwriter David Deacon is eschewing instant aesthetics with his provocative new single “California Has No Winter”, released in tandem with his new album Four.
Soaking in the sunshiny tropes of the Golden State and delivering knowingly dark, spoken verses å la Leonard Cohen, Deacon points a poetic finger at the see through superficiality of today’s youth culture in his new release – and he certainly can. After five decades of creating poetry, music and visual art, careers as a race car driver, an advertising executive and a businessman and almost losing his life in a terrible motorcycle accident, turning a critical, musical eye on our modern societal state of affairs is Deacon’s hard won right.
“‘California Has No Winter’ is an observation about the thinness of the veneer of American youth culture, which stresses the beauty of the moment and has so little charity for the long term, the historic, the aging, the difficult,” explains Deacon. “It is my soft, non-belligerent, and very short version of Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’.”
While Allen Ginsberg’s 3-part opus is a voluminous hallmark of beat poetry, Deacon’s artistic observations are delivered in a tidier, four-and-a-half-minute song that packs its own, slow burn punch. Deacon’s softly commanding, world-weary baritone juxtaposed with an octave-higher female vocal rises into a crescendo in the outro, insistently asking “without seasons, without signs, how do we know when it’s over?” A very good question we should all ask ourselves from time to time.
You won’t see the leaves fall, there’s no snow at all
Time is only a clock, no need to take stock
You’re in the summer of life, you’ve got a California wife
California has no winter
While it certainly looks perfect on the surface, there’s a dark side to that shiny California coin. “It seemed to me that images of nature are perhaps the best possible way to contrast the idea of an eternal summer of life and the consequences of actually living that way both culturally and politically,” notes Deacon.
The third single from Deacon’s just released album “Four”, “California Has No Winter” is the album’s smoothly cynical cornerstone. As with all ten tracks on the new album, it was co-written by Deacon and his guitarist Andy Ryan. Deacon and Ryan also co-produced the new album, which was recorded by Grammy nominated and Juno winning producer Eddie Bullen and mastered by Lacquer Channel’s Noah Mintz. Rounding out Deacon’s musical quartet are Etric Lyons on bass guitar and Aaron Spinks on drums.
An album that marks a re-invigorated return to music making after a long hiatus, Deacon describes “Four” as ‘a ride that starts out on a freeway, takes a long stretch down a winding road, makes a few off-road excursions, and ultimately has faith that just keeping on will get you somewhere interesting.’ After years of writing, recording, and performing in decades past and detours into periods without music over the years, it’s the creative road ahead that excites Deacon now.
A chronicle of thoughtful and soulful reflections on life paths, relationships, and the state of the world around us, “Four” is a comprehensive example of Deacon’s approach to songwriting, which is two-pronged.
“I think the main starting point about writing songs for me is sorting out whether in my mind the song is a story or whether it’s a poem,” notes Deacon. “For example, the song ‘Poetry’ is a poem. That probably didn’t surprise you, did it? The song ‘Hard Time’ is the story that happened after the poem. They are both about the same woman, the same relationship but they were from different times and different points of view.”
It’s those different points of view about personal events and world perspectives that only an artist with David Deacon’s history and experience could possibly gather and turn into the poetry of his fourth album. With renewed vigor and creative spirit, the fourth time is the charm for this blues and roots journeyman.