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Trevor Bushey - Harbour Hope Review

We haven’t been praying for rain in Ottawa all summer, but local singer-songwriter Trevor Bushey’s latest single almost makes me want to rethink my relationship with the sad heavens above.

Trevor has been making the rounds on the Ottawa scene for a few years now, having a documentary (see bottom of this post), a full-length album, an EP, and a brand new track under his belt. His debut LP ‘De Anima’ – Greek for ‘On The Soul,’ presumably after Aristotle’s work of the same name – was released in March of this year, and constitutes a masterpiece of Do-It-Yourself recording running the gamut from Lo-Fi folk, experimental rock, vocal jazz, to punk. It features Trevor’s unmistakable voice, erudite lyrics, and unusual guitar techniques alongside a ramshackle band of trumpets, violins, pump organs, singing saws, and other sounds difficult to identify. His follow-up 5-track EP ‘Softish’ was a return to basics, featuring little else but his mesmerizing voice, unique song structures, and subtly virtuosic fingerpicking to focus on.

The latest single ‘Harbour Hope’ is a synthesis of his two approaches, with the minimalist arrangement of his familiar voice and guitar stylings supported by a syncopated shaker, muted guitar and walking bassline. The musical elements never quite seem to resolve, and the reticent instrumental backing is apt for his lyrical paen to uncertainty. Seeding a garden twice would appear to be an act of desperation, and it is unclear to what extent Trevor himself truly harbors hope. His double and even triple-tracked vocals imply that his quiet voice and words require support, even if is only himself that could possibly provide it. His voice sounds as though it is emanating from an old 78” recording playing in a dusty attic above your head – it wafts in the air slightly out of reach, nostalgically reminding you of a misremembered past, or perhaps a past you never had.

Following in his articulate tradition, Trevor has written a song featuring the word ‘anatropic,’ but still manages to come off easy and mysteriously provocative. His lyrics often read as though he has memorized a thesaurus, or at least read his fair share of 19th century texts on experimental botany. The track’s theme of growing a garden doubles as a surrender to a quasi-religious higher power whose preordained direction will make everything turn out right, or perhaps, an acceptance of the disordered, absurd, and ultimately meaningless existence we have been thrown into. Hints of Epicurus, Voltaire, and Sartre permeate the peripheries of his psyche.

Whether or not it is for naught, the sunflower cranes its neck to the sky with resolve in search for a higher power, its source of energy. In the end one can only resign oneself to what may be, leave it alone, and pray for rain.

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