Tim Darcy‘s main outfit, Ought, has already established a reputation as being one of Canadian music’s most adventurous bands. As a solo artist, would he expand upon his band’s experimentalism or pursue a more linear, sonic path? The answer lies somewhere in-between on his eye-opening debut album, Saturday Night.
A more apt description of Saturday Night is that it is a microcosm of the vast influences that have guided Darcy’s solo and band work to date. The result is an album that is far from linear, but rather it is filled with surprises. At times, Darcy offers songs that are bold and refreshing, expansive and innovative. Other moments feel familiar as the Montreal-based songwriter takes on the classics. From SUUNS to Leonard Cohen, Elvis Presley to Patsy Cline, and, of course, Ought, the album is wrought with music from the past five decades.
Saturday Night launches with the first of many surprises with “Tall Glass of Water”, a toe-tapping, rockabilly number that echoes Marlon Williams’ reinvention of the genre. Despite the catchy rock ‘n roll, Darcy’s songwriting chops are the star, as the song is filled with clever lyrics and allegory, such as:
If at the end of the river, there is more river, would you dare to swim again?
Yes, surely I will stay, and I am not afraid. I went under once, I’ll go under once again.
“You Felt Comfort” builds on on the album’s opener, offering another upbeat, classic tune. The warm “Still Waking Up”, meanwhile, has the introspective pensiveness of Julia Jacklin’s country-folk ballads. It is also the first song where Darcy’s vocals are the highlight, as he reaches a Roy Orbison-level in his crooning. The song is worth a double take to breathe in the song’s intimacy and appreciate Darcy’s vocal prowess. It is on the stunning “What’d You Release?”, however, where Darcy shines vocally and lyrically. The song is truly a stunning number and arguably Darcy’s masterpiece. The song then seamlessly builds into the languid instrumental of “Beyond Me”, which mirrors the experimentalism of SUUNS and Ought.
The double-feature of “Joan Part 1, 2” is the one track that singularly bridges the classics with Darcy’s innovation. It starts off similarly as the other rockabilly songs before transgressing into a moody, dark auteur of a tune. The title track, “Saturday Night”, is similarly theatrical in its approach. It is a mix of Bowie, Cohen, and Cave in its execution and menacing approach.
“Found My Limit” is unlike the other songs on the album. It is dissonant and the harmonies are discordant, giving this song about new beginnings an eerie yet mesmerizing complexion. In many ways, the track is the anthem to Saturday Night, the anthem to Darcy himself. It is not so much Darcy saying goodbye to Ought or anyone in particular, but him welcoming a new chapter in his life. The old meets the new. The light merges with the darkness. It is Darcy bringing together all these elements and his vast influences into one impressive debut that will be discussed within music circles for weeks and months to come.
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