"It was the best of the worst case, really," says south shore troubadour Corey Isenor, with a seasoned mix of hoarseness and optimism in his voice. He's referring to a car accident that punctuated the beginning of his tour, along the highway nearing Dawson City. "We spun around a few times and ended up going into the ditch backwards. As we went down, the van rolled and landed on the driver's side. All the windows were broken and the roof was crushed, but none of us were hurt. It was miraculous, really."
The incident occurred just two days into his tour with Whitehorse resident Jona Barr, AKA Old Cabin. Having played a few Maritime dates together in 2011, the two reconnected recently when they realized they had the same stock and ambition: both had new albums and the desire to tour across the country. On Barr's suggestion, Isenor, along with drummer Al Melnyk, flew to Whitehorse in late October to begin rehearsals. "I'd never been that far west or north. It was all totally new for me," says Isenor. "We stayed at a bed and breakfast owned by Jona's father, cradled by two mountains. Al and I stayed in a little cabin with a wood stove for a week and a half just practicing."
Following the honeymoon phase and the will-testing car crash, the three pressed on, eager to share their new material. Hollowbody, Isenor's fourth full-length, marks a major growth spurt for the already accomplished songwriter. "I really wanted to challenge myself more, so I wound up trying to write more eloquently. I tried to write songs that are interesting to me, but not necessarily about me; more about universal themes than introspection."
The result is bracing collection of country-tinged folk-rock that explores themes like addiction, aging and uncertainty.
It's the kind of comforting, thought-provoking music you'd expect from a guy who finds a silver lining amidst a near-death experience: "Our whole perspective changed after the car crash. I think it benefitted us in the long run because it allowed us to get our heads around what exactly we were doing by driving across Canada in the winter."
Corey Isenor w/Old Cabin
Thursday, December 5 at 8:30pm, $8
The Company House, 2202 Gottingen Street