Paper Beat Scissors

Paper Beat Scissors (Foto: Nick Wilkinson)

The sophomore release from Halifax, Nova Scotia’s own Brit-in-residence Tim Crabtree focuses on starting again, getting your head down and pushing forward. The self-produced album combines disparate musical elements cohesively beneath a voice that will draw you in, put you to bed and spit you out.

As an album concerned with pushing through, the genesis of Go On was appropriately long and demanding. Set in motion in London, Ontario in early 2013 with engineer Dean Nelson (Beck, Thurston Moore, Bat for Lashes), Crabtree, taking burgeoning first steps as producer, took the freedom and time to figure out just the right player and just the right studio for every part for every song. Tracks were bounced around and added to in Montreal, New York, Nova Scotia, Toronto, New York and even at the family home studio in rural Lancashire. When everything was ripe, Crabtree meticulously picked through all the strands and wove them together with mix engineer Graeme Campbell (Buck 65, Rich Aucoin).

The finger-picked guitars and orchestral flourishes remain in place from the self-titled debut. Fans will recognize the dynamic playfulness, squirrelly time changes and floating falsetto from Paper Beat Scissors but Crabtree explores new sonic corners for Go On. From the 808 drum loops of opener Enough, through the chopped and rebuilt basses and vocal samples of When You Still to the so-loose-it-might-fall-apart muted piano and drums of Named and the clarinets and marimba of the eponymous closer, the sonic ground is constantly shifting, but the consistency and recognizability in the singular songwriting and voice keeps the listener firmly rooted.

Crabtree’s orchestration chops (which have recently seen him arrange Paper Beat Scissors music for symphony in Halifax) are heightened by contributions and arrangements from long-time collaborators Gregory Burton, Michael Feuerstack and Pietro Amato (the latter two of the Luyas and Bell Orchestre), as well as Clogs member and the National, Kronos Quartet collaborator Thomas Kozumplik. The arrangements move from minimalist to bombastic but are always exclusively tools put to the service of making a deep connection with the listener, and the emotional power of the music has only increased from the debut.

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