Bob Mersereau Reviews In the Nighttime

May 22, 2013

For those of you who were excited by David Myles’ recent collaboration with hip-hop artist Classified on Inner NInja, the hit single that brought them the 2013 Juno for Rap Recording of the Year, there’s good news: In The Nighttime is another disc from the pair, Classified producing the Myles’ tracks, and appearing as the featured vocalist on two of the tracks.

For those of you who love David Myles for his folk-pop, pleasing and mellow singer-songwriter fair, there’s good news. In The Nighttime is another disc in that direction, this time produced by pianist Aaron Davis, alongside bassist David Piltch, guitarist Kevin Breit and drummer Davide Direnzo, top flight Canadian jazz players known for their work with Holly Cole and countless others.

Wait, you say, how can this new Myles release be both of those things? It’s because it’s a double. Two CD’s in the physical release, the Aaron Davis-produced tracks on the first, the Classified sessions on the second. There’s more on the first, eleven songs compared to six Classified tracks, so he’s not suggesting he’s switched over to the bigger sound, but it is a novel concept, and it’s great to get the two sides to the story. In fact, the Classified set is subtitled The After Party, making it like a bonus disc, but really, it’s up there with the rest in both quality and listener rewards.

Disc one isn’t really the same sound for Myles either. Davis and crew bring a sophisticated, rich backing to his stories, real instruments throughout, the stand-up bass of Piltch and the light touch of Direnzo on the percussion a highlight throughout. On vocals, Myles is joined by Rose Cousins and Meaghan Smith to great effect, the girl-group answering vocals on Tell Me What a special treat. They sound like the Andrews Sisters, to Myles’ Nat King Cole. That old-fashioned feel to Myles’ music is one of the reasons I enjoy him; there’s no pretence to his songs and recordings, the emphasis is always on writing a strong song, using fine players and using traditional music values to make it strong. His singing is from the heart, and the emotions he puts out in his lyrics are honest, and he’s not embarrassed about them. The lines he writes area direct and tender: “All I’m gonna do today is find a way to be with you.”

Now, just when we thought we had Myles figured out, he surprised us with the whole Inner Ninja thing, and now we get more of that fun. And fun it is. Unlike Inner Ninja, which was a Classified track where Myles was a guest, these are David’s songs, so they are chosen from his fun pop-folk style, and then given the beats and grooves from Classified. None of it is overdone, or take Myles out of his comfort zone, but really just add an element of playfulness to the tracks. There are little bits of echo, turntable tricks, beats dropped in or removed, horn stabs, and a groove that’s underplayed in his usual style. You can tell Myles enjoys getting into this state of mind as well, and really, it’s the best of both worlds for the consumer.

David Myles is back in his home town of Fredericton this coming Saturday the 25th. He’s headlining a charity concert for Special Olympics New Brunswick, at the Playhouse. Mo Kenney is on the bill as well, and tickets are at the Playhouse box office. Of course, there will plenty of the new album to hear.

by Bob Mersereau, CBC East Coast Music