|For singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman, one album a year just isn't enough
Canadian singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman is eager to talk about his new album Between The Beautifuls. The only snag is it is February, 2008 and not June, 2007 when he felt more connected with it.
"I think this record is brilliant, I think it's gotten some of the best songs that I've ever written on it," he says from a Toronto coffee shop. "But that's not living within me at the moment sadly which is a bit strange.
"I want to move a lot quicker. I've produced three records since I made this record. I just wish I wouldn't have to sit around and have all this emphasis be on this one thing and drawn out over a cycle of 18 months. It's a bit of a flawed timetable for somebody like me who would rather put out three records in a year."
Workman's workmanlike demeanor resulted in a few digital-only albums recently, including 2006's Puppy. He feels quite satisfied with the way technology is steering the music industry.
"This is a valueless piece of plastic and paper, we're still doing this because there's some charm in its nostalgia but there won't be in two more years," he says holding the CD. "In two more years, when I'm able to record a song and upload it that day and put out 50 songs a year, that seems very exciting to me."
Between The Beautifuls contains crisp pop rock moments such as The City Is A Drag but seems a bit more earthy and roots-y judging by tracks such as It's Not Me and pleasantly punchy Pomegranate Daffodil which Workman wrote for the album last.
"My woman is an organic farmer and has a real kooky outlook," he says. "Pomegranate Daffodil came out during these smells and having her cutting fruit, there was a kind of sexiness to it. I still feel like that seeing rhubarb burst and seeing it so red, it's so sexual."
Another highlight on the record is the light, country-leaning Oh You Delicate Heart which, according to the liner notes, featured an orchestral arrangement by the Krakow Children's Ensemble.
So that must have been an interesting collaboration, right? "Well, I lied," he says with a laugh. "There were some strings that we used a mellotron on and I just thought it would be more fun to say that it was played by real people but it wasn't."
Probably the one reprieve Workman felt with this record was the chance to remove the producer's hat and let Andre Wahl hold that responsibility.
"Andre brought polish, he brought polish and I don't ever do anything twice," Workman says. "I don't think polish is really my strong suit. I just played the songs and I just finished. He made sure the record got finished.
"The worry that comes over me as a producer, it's so constant and so nagging. Producing records is awful, it's just awful and I don't wish it on anybody. When you're signing on to be a producer what you're really signing on for is to take the sh-t for anything that goes wrong."
Workman spent some time in Los Angeles working and writing songs with Golden Globe winning actress Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) but is looking forward to a national tour starting this month.
Workman is playing the Danforth Music Hall on March 6-7.
Another rock album is planned for a European release later in 2008.
However, just don't ask him about how the songs from Between The Beautifuls are coming off in concert.
"I've not even played any of them yet," he says. "I have to go play all of these songs on the radio today and TV tomorrow and I haven't even rehearsed them. This is ridiculous, isn't it? The show that I'm going to do is not going to resemble the record at all which the label loves, they love that."
Workman wants to live up to his name
With Hawksley Workman ninth album, he says he can relate a bit more to the way a musician's career changes. He uses Canadian folk legend Bruce Cockburn as an example.
"As a teenager I owned all the records and to me it was like I owned Bruce Cockburn," he says. "I felt I had a personal relationship with his music and in some ways have ever since. I can look at Bruce Cockburn 32 records deep and say, 'This is what happens when you live and make records for a long time.' Sometimes you strike gold and sometimes there are pieces of gold in the dirt. Sometimes a great record doesn't come at the right time for you."
And while Cockburn has about two dozen releases on him, Workman will probably continue to issue material at a steady rate for the foreseeable future.
"It's kept me sane sort of having things always floating out," he says. "It's kind of like the thought of a trough full of water just stagnating that makes me crazy. I just like making stuff and I don't dwell or live in things for too long. For me it's like a swim - you do it and you get out of the water and you do it the next day. It's just as refreshing and just as lovely."
When he's not releasing albums he plans on possibly keeping busy with other activities.
"I would like to paint or something, I need to augment my life a bit. I think I would like to custom build a camp vehicle too."