In a mere 5 days the citizens of Ottawa will be migrating down to Lansdowne Park for another edition of CityFolk, and I, for one, am itching with anticipation. Once again, I’m going to review an album released this year from an indie artist who will be playing for us. Our culprit today is Ottawa’s very own Jim Bryson, a poetic folk-rock musician who knows how to deliver a charming and engaging live performance.
Jim Bryson’s Somewhere We Will Find Our Place marks his fifth studio release since his debut in 2000, but he only recently crossed my radar when I caught a part of his set at the Ottawa Jazz Festival earlier this summer. While I was unable to experience the full set, in a rather brief period of time I was struck by the way Bryson was able to engage an audience, who mostly seemed unfamiliar with his music. The easy-going flow of his band made a perfect complement for his calm and simple vocals, with memorable hooks that welcomed the audience into his songs. Between songs Jim Bryson filled the space with witty, self-deprecating banter that seemed to shrink the venue down to something much more intimate. I was sorry to have to leave the set early, which makes me all the more excited that he is playing again at CityFolk.
Somewhere We Will Find Our Place is an album that is at once easy to listen to and full of depth. Jim Bryson’s voice and melodies are smooth and inoffensive. The instrumental accompaniment rolls along effortlessly, creating a rich backdrop for his carefully-crafted lyrics. Everything on this record fits together just right. With a style reminiscent a bit of Modest Mouse and Wilco, these are songs that blend folk and rock into a moving and relaxing mixture. I have not yet had a chance to try his earlier records yet, so I cannot say how it relates to his other work, but with no perspective other than hearing this recent album, I cannot find any real fault. Without a doubt, Jim Bryson is a musician with a passion for storytelling and wordplay.
I am always happy when Ottawa festivals find a few local artists to showcase, and I could not be happier that CityFolk has chosen Jim Bryson. You will find Jim Bryson and co. on Sunday, September 18, at 7:00 on the Ravenlaw stage. If you would like more info on the festival, head on over here.