Like a cool sea breeze on a hot day, Victoria’s folk-rock duo Jon and Roy have a deeply calming effect. Their music is layered, pensive, and tranquil. This fifth album, By My Side, follows up their 2012 release, Let It Go, which earned them a Western Canadian Music Award for Best Roots Group Recording and featured the single, “Vibrant Scene.”
The first single off By My Side, “Where’d My Light Go” is just as unassumingly catchy and has their trademark upbeat folk sound featuring a great harmonica solo. Themes of light and its various manifestations overtake the bulk of this record.
The obvious one, “Where’d My Light Go” discusses light as perhaps a lost love, and “Moonrise” mentions the calming effect of the magic hour when everything looks golden. The moon also features in “Take Me By Surprise” as Jon sings “Out on a warm night, the moon is high / Out on a warm night and the moon is mine.”
Light gives way to love on “Getting Warm” as Jon sings about lightning and a brightening road before filling his empty cup with a “loving wine.” The duo also loves to talk about love, and they do so with such beautiful simplicity. “Every Night” is a declaration of love that everyone can relate to about wanting someone’s love every night and lying next to them.
The soothing guitar on this track gives it a lulling quality that will make you feel like lying down while Jon’s voice stretches around the higher notes of the line “Oh, I want your love.”
On “Trouble in Mind” there is a much more melancholic tone with long drawn out notes and lyrics about not wanting to let someone down: “You can come to me / With your trouble in mind / And my darling I will be / There to hold you up fine.”
The seven songs on this album were written as the pair has always done — through jam sessions at Roy’s house. On this album, Jon also plays banjo and his new 1950s Gibson acoustic. Roy also experiments with new instruments using his custom Gretsch drum kit. With help from their friends, bassist Louis Sadava and supporting vocalist Carmanah’s Laura Mitic, the sound on this album feels wonderfully diverse.