In support of his latest release Hourglass, Murray McLauchlan is set to stop in New Glasgow this month.
McLauchlan will perform at the Pictou County Wellness Centre on Oct. 19 with a 7:30 p.m. showtime. The performance is part of the deCoste Centre for Arts and Creativity’s On the Road Tour.
Calling his concert “a simple set up,” McLauchlan said musically “it’s quite diverse.”
“What people will see is a very intimate, cabaret concert,” he said. “My goal as a musician, as a songwriter, is that when people walk out of the theatre, they’re going to be slightly different than when they walked in.”
Considered one of Canada’s most highly regarded singer-songwriters with a 50-year career that has featured 20 albums and 11 Juno awards, McLauchlan is best known for his classic songs Farmer’s Song, Down by the Henry Moore, Whispering Rain, and Sweeping the Spotlight Away.
While he will be performing those classics, McLauchlan said audiences will also hear his latest tunes.
“I’ll be playing a lot of songs from the new record, which got quite a lot of attention,” he noted. “One song in particular, which is the called The Thomson Day, in honour of the painter Tom Thomson, I coupled with the Art Gallery of Ontario and got permission from them to actually use Thomson’s painting ‘The West Wind’ in the video. A couple of hundred thousand people now have watched it, so it seems to be pretty popular, and that’s just on YouTube, so all the other streaming services have been on it too.”
McLauchlan said Hourglass received a great reception south of the border as well.
“I also paid a lot of attention to the American side of things, which I haven’t done in a while,” he said. “We did a pretty good campaign down there and got some pretty rave reviews on the record.”
While in lockdown in Stoney Lake, Ont., during the COVID-19 pandemic, McLauchlan started writing, eventually leading to Hourglass.
“There’s songs on it that were really triggered by events that were going on in the world, and it’s quite a personal, quite an emotional collection of songs,” he said. “I was reflecting on things like the death of George Floyd and the disparity and troubles in race matters. I was reflecting on income disparity.
“There were a lot of things to think about and then I wrote quite a lot of songs about it. I wrote one particular, which actually is just called America, and it views the political turmoil, basically the schism between the two sides in America, through the eyes of a child whose parents are getting divorced.”
While his reasons for making music haven’t changed, McLauchlan said he has evolved.
“As the years go by, I’ve learned how to play a lot more different music forms,” he said. “It’s always been a journey to try and get a little better and to learn something different, or to experiment because it keeps you fresh.”
McLauchlan said he also changed his writing process for Hourglass.
“They all evolved from guitar pieces that I was playing just for finger exercises; little snippets, little bits of music that I was playing,” he noted. “I went, ‘that’s a cool idea, maybe instead of writing songs where you write a verse and then you go to a chorus or bridge, why not let the chorus be musical.’”
Since the pandemic, McLauchlan has been touring Canada with the band Lunch At Allen’s with Ian Thomas, Marc Jordan and Cindy Church.
“I haven’t had a chance to tour since before COVID. The last time I was able to do a concert tour, I basically finished it up in February and about the next minute, they locked down the entire planet and all the theatres,” he said. “For the past while, since things opened up again, there were a lot of Lunch At Allen’s dates.”
Not content to just sit and write, the 75-year-old McLauchlan wants his songs to be heard.
“If you’re a painter, you need a gallery, otherwise nobody sees your stuff. If you’re a songwriter and you’re relying on records, and nowadays Spotify or the internet, to showcase your stuff, people are only going to hear one or two things, and maybe the things that people pick, might not be the things that you pick,” he said. “Unless you’re willing to get off your backside and go out and play for people, which I also think is a real test of your abilities as a writer because, after all, our job is to communicate with people; to take ideas or to take life situations and make them accessible so people feel for themselves.”
Calling the flights and drives “exhausting,” McLauchlan said he still feels compelled to tour.
“I don’t want to waste my life, so I feel that it’s my gig to get out there and play,” he said.
McLauchlan was bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Laws and in 1993 was appointed to the Order of Canada. He is also a visual artist, painter, author, actor and radio host.
McLauchlan added that creativity helps to focus his mind.
“There’s two sides to that; one is they’re all just really different aspects of the desire to create stuff,” he said. “Overall, there’s this other layer, which is the things I’ve always been attracted to, whether it’s painting, whether it’s making music, whether it’s martial arts, or whether it’s been flying acrobatics, or any number of things I’ve become involved in over the years, there’s kind of an existential experience.”
For more information, visit www.murraymclauchlan.com. Tickets can be purchased by contacting the deCoste box office at 902-485-8848.