Corin Raymond follows up on his Juno-nominated "Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams" album with "Dirty Mansions". While we've recently documented his move to Hamilton in the last two years, you figure we could call Raymond's latest release his 'Hamilton album' but while there's even a song called "Hamilton" and Raymond's Hamilton house on the front cover, the music covers a lot more ground than just his recent locale. The accompanying "Dirty Mansions" 264 page book of chords, lyrics, stories and art - that Raymond refers to as the 'liner notes' - helps showcase and document the many cities, people, events and stories that factor into Corin Raymond's new music.
"Most people might move places for relationships and often they leave you there in a new town or take you somewhere else but the truth is I was meant to live in Hamilton in the house that i'm in now," says Raymond on his move to Hamilton that ended in breakup. "I don't think my former partner was meant to live in Hamilton so everything worked out the way it was meant to be."
While born in Winnipeg, Raymond's father was born in Hamilton and Raymond grew up in Georgetown before relocating to Kingston and then Toronto to further his musical career. He's since furthered his musical career from his Hamilton base with his most expansive work to date.
"I consider three cities in my heart and that's Winnipeg, Toronto and Hamilton of which the dirty mansions of each are featured on this new album," says Raymond. "But I made five trips to Winnipeg over the last two and a half years to record this album with producer Scott Nolan. I'm a fan of Winnipeg as much as of Scott. It's such a home to me and I feel like my friends there are my family and so much of them are musicians that I love that I've worked with on various levels for half my career. It was just a matter of when and how I was going to make a record in Winnipeg. I've been a fan of Scott Nolan since I saw him first play live in 2005 and since then I've wanted to work with him so this was a great way for two birds to get stoned at once - and I'm not talking about throwing rocks."
Raymond's music is thoughtful story telling, roots based rock but his character permeates the lyrical content. While he is a gregarious chuckling interview, his lyrics often lean to life's sad moments but sometimes it's fun to be sad.
'This album comes with 264 pages of liner notes," laughs Raymond on the book that accompanies the new collection of songs. "In the book, I offer some of my influences and the first song is based on [as he reads from the book "Dirty Mansions"] the far ranging impact on the deaths of my mother and father on me, the result of longing that I don't fully understand... my obsession with Tom Waits from the age of 15 to 30, the comfort I've received from Leonard Cohen... Put all of those things in a pot, let it simmer and that's what you get."
The influences are quite expansive - taking from poetry and plays as well as from 'Drum Tobacco' and it's that mix of the bawdy and beautiful that makes Corin Raymond so interesting to listen to - in song or on the phone. And for those that don't receive a phone call to discuss his music, you can delve into an expansive book to explore the world of Corin Raymond.
"I'm a writer and a story teller with a lot of stories to tell and as I'm getting older, I felt it was time to really make a statement," says Raymond who turns forty-seven on Saturday. "The fact that the streaming industry has become the predominant fashion - that dared me to write a book. This is my response to the digital age where pirates are sanctioned and where people are happy to throw away their CDs and liner notes, which I don't understand at all. I would never throw away the liner notes for an album that I loved."
"Dirty Mansions" is definitely an album you could love - I was hoping for it to be Raymond's 'Hamilton record' and was delighted to find that song called "Hamilton" on it but it's actually written by a fellow musician, David Ross Macdonald, who stayed at Raymond's Hamilton home and witnessed the breakup Raymond went through.
"David is a fantastic Australian singer and songwriter that was staying with me for a weekend right before I went to Winnipeg," says Raymond. "He walked into that situation and he wrote it the second day and when I came back from Winnipeg he showed me it. It documented my break up, East Hamilton and this place I'm living so I was honoured to include it on this album. Believe you me, I've got a lot of Hamilton songs in me that will get written but in this case, it wasn't one I could write myself, I needed a friend to come and write it for me."
The video for "Hamilton" features a collection of old east Hamilton and embodies that longing and lonesome nature that pervades all of the music from "Dirty Mansions". But the beauty of the somber is what seems to drive Raymond to create. While his Hamilton residence has become the place for many a travelling musician to take advantage of from a friend that'll let them stay while on tour, the partying nature of life offers happiness but the songs always seem sad. Perhaps most sad when Raymond includes his first song written for the mother who died giving birth to him.
"A couple of songs on my previous albums sound like you want to be there for the party but then you hear the songs on the new album and maybe people will say, 'maybe you shouldn't be doing all this partying'," chuckles Raymond. "I'm turning 47 this weekend, it's only 47 but I'm starting to feel it. Maybe it's affecting the songs. My second mother died when I was seven but Wendy and Karen are in everything I do. I think they give me the ability to do what I do but I never addressed my mother in song and this album made me feel like it was time.
"If you go back to my previous records, you'll find the same kind of somber songs but they're peppered with 'I'm drunk at a party while you're stuck at work' kind of songs," adds Raymond. "In this case, it's a more somber record. I'm older, a lot of friends have died in the last year - it's a record for November, overcast where a little bit of snow is in the gutters. Scott Nolan specializes in that somber kind of music and may have wanted it to be even more somber. I love that stuff - the winter, the rain. I love to look out the window at the snow. I love sad songs. I've always loved them and luckily there's enough people as twisted as me that makes me fortunate enough to have a job."
The release party Raymond refers to a hybrid concert he's developed that incorporates his style not only of make music but also in the presentation of it. There will be a lot of sad songs but with Raymond's nature, there will be a lot of humor and heart to be found as well. For his Hamilton hometown release, musical guests from far and wide will join Raymond for what should be a truly captivating debut for "Dirty Mansions".
"Keyboardist Treasa Levasseur was born at the same hospital that I was in Winnipeg but she now lives in Hamilton and I'm happy to have her be a part of this show," says Raymond. "I'm flying out Winnipeg's Joanna Miller to play the drums because she's one of the best drummers in the country and I'll also have guitarist Mike T. Kerr and upright bassist Joe Phillips from London, Ontario. This is an all star five piece band. And a guy that's been in Hamilton the last seven years, he used to be in a band called the Warped 45s, his name is Dave McEathron, and I'm super excited he'll be opening the show.
"My show is evolving as we speak,' adds Raymond. "I've just done five release shows across Ontario and it's really turning into part stand up comedy, part memoir - there's a bit of theatre and story telling - it all weaves together with the music. if we do this long enough, we all find our voice, the stories which are ours to tell and in the style in which we can tell them. I think I'm coming more into myself with this one so it's been satisfying on several levels."
Corin Raymond plays this Sunday November 24 at the Staircase Theatre with Dave McEathron. Doors are at 7 pm and advance tickets are avaialble via brownpapertickets.com for $25. Click on corinraymond.com