David Myles puts smooth vocals to good use In the Nighttime

May 13, 2013

You know, we really should take a moment to appreciate the near-perfection that is David Myles’ vocal instrument — that sturdy but oh-sosmooth croon that melts the hearts of the young and the old, that turns time off and lets us know that things have changed.

The talented Fredericton singer-songwriter, who now hangs his hat in Halifax for the few weeks of the year that he’s not touring, has never sounded better than he does on In the Nighttime — the new sonically gorgeous double-album that’s set to drop on May 14.

Fans will have a chance to check out the new tunes when Myles takes the stage at The Playhouse on May 25, alongside Mo Kenney, for a fundraiser concert for the Special Olympics’ New Brunswick division.

The first disc is a collection of 11 ear-pleasing folk-jazz tunes, echoing the best moments from Myles’ work on albums like Turn Time Off, On the Line and Things Have Changed. And the second disc, a six-song EP produced by Enfield, N.S. hip hop star and studio-wizard Classified, documents the other side of the coin, the fun, experimental side of his personality.

These tunes are infused with frenetic percussion and up-tempo vocal deliveries, falling closer in sound to his work on Into the Sun than on the smash-hit Classified single “Inner Ninja,” which has helped introduce his music to a whole new audience.

Through it all, that voice, that nearly perfect voice, brings us along for the ride. “You do get better at singing the more you sing. I had toured these songs all fall, singing them all the time. I was singing for two hours every night. With warmups, and the whole thing, I couldn’t afford to lose my voice at all, so I was basically being very careful, working on my voice to make sure it was in good shape for when I made the record,” he said.

Backed by an Avengers-like roster of acclaimed studio musicians, including bassist David Piltch, pianist Aaron Davis, drummer Davide DiRenzo, and Kevin Breit on guitars, mandolin, and dobro, the album features lush arrangements and strong storytelling, especially on key tracks like “What Would I Have to Do,” “All I’ve Got to Give,” “Peace of Mind,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Away,” and “Tell Me What,” which features a slinky bass intro that can be hard to shake.

“In my opinion, (David Piltch is) the best bass-player in the world. That’s not an exaggeration. He played with the Holly Cole Trio years ago, but now he lives in L.A. He played with k.d. lang for many, many years. He played on Bonnie Raitt’s last record. He plays with Bill Frisell,” he said. “He left the session and flew to play, the next day, with T. Bone Burnett. He’s played on a Gnarls Barkley record, with John Legend. It was cool.”

He said he’s happy to put both sets of songs out there at the same time, to let people see that he’s more than one thing and that people can enjoy different sounds from the same artist. “Together, they kind of speak to who I am,” he said. “And frankly, live, there are always various parts to what I do. I like to be able to do some rootsy stuff. And I want to be able to do some stuff where people are dancing.”

Fresh from a Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year for his work on the Classified single, Myles said he’s feeling confident that he can let his musical influences flow freely without alienating most of his fans. “Believe me, I went back and forth a lot about what to do (with these sets of songs). I was feeling the EP. We were getting things going and I thought, ‘Whoa, this stuff is heavy. I’m really into this right now,’” he said.

“The fact is there are two sides to me. I love roots music, but I love what I’m doing with Classified. So why not do them together? Why not try to find some people who like both sides of the coin? I wanted this record to be a really good example of where I’m at musically. I didn’t want it to be a one-dimensional thing.

“The fact is that over the past couple of years my music has diversified a little bit. Why not put out a record that celebrates that diversity?”

This album is his first since Myles became a father. He celebrates the birth of his beautiful little girl, Maria, in “All I’ve Got to Give,” a stunning song steeped in the emotions of the parenting experience. “I knew when I wrote it that it was going to become a staple of my catalogue,” he said, laughing. “Every once in a while you stumble upon a song that feels uniquely yours, that feels like a song you’ll always play. I’ve played that a lot live since I wrote it, and people always respond to it. It feels uniquely where you are at a particular moment.

“It was just before Maria was born, and so there was a lot going on in my brain. You’re about to have a baby for the first time and it just happened.”

by Adam Bowie, The Daily Gleaner