Based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
the Young Novelists have graced listeners with a new single, the contemplative and slow-brewing “Back to the Hard Times”. With a remarkably understated and haunting sense of melody and mood, the duo convinces us that we have lived a lifetime in the space of moments as the tune works its gorgeous charms upon us. Reminiscent of Canadian heavyweights such as k.d. lang, Cowboy Junkies, the Sadies and, in a way, Bruce Cockburn, the Young Novelists are informed with a cool authenticity that many of their U.S. counterparts can only dream of. There’s a confidence in this understatement, a heart-filled hopefulness that one can only hope blazes a trail for various Americana-minded acts to follow in the coming years.
Of the song itself, Graydon James says, “If you’ve ever seen the optical illusion where first it’s a vase, then it’s two faces looking at each other, well that’s what I tried to do when I wrote this song, except lyrically. I had two stories in mind: the true story of a failed amusement park at Crystal Beach near the small town of Ridgeway, Ontario, and the equally true story of a broken and dying relationship between a couple of teenage kids who happened to be friends of mine at a time when I lived in Ridgeway. My goal was to make each line work for both stories, and that the difference between the two would be a simple shift of perspective.”
Those haunting perspectives make their way into the video, which James’ bandmate, Laura Spink, says came about with a little help from some good friends. “We were trying to find a way to present the idea of a struggling relationship without resorting to the usual imagery, and the image we kept coming back to was a boiling pot of water,” she notes. “We collaborated with the artistic team at Brought to You By, who did a beautiful job producing the video, and came up with a way to tell the story that we thought had a novel twist: seeing the relationship from the point of view of the shared space and the stuff that this couple had around them. You get drawn in by what goes unsaid and unseen, and I think there’s power in that.”