Craig Cardiff Biography
"It’s the cliché that most artists define themselves with their first release, and then struggle their whole career to go back there. It was the first thing that friends said when I played mixes for them - "my god, you've written another book with your songs (like JG!YNH)", said Cardiff.
"I've been quite happy to make interesting, eclectic albums, but the stars aligned and the album that I've had in my head for past few years got made. I wanted the words to be sparse and subversive, for the whole thing to sound like bees humming in a hive. Les brought together talented people to play and made this beautiful big warm knot of wood. I'm very proud of it."
Produced by Les Cooper (Jill Barber, Andy Stochansky) at Canterburry Studios in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 'Goodnight (Go Home)' features 15 studio tracks, with the musicianship of Paul Mathew (Hidden Cameras), Mike Olsen (Arcade Fire), Lisa MacIsaac (Mad Violet), Kieran Adams (Sarah Harmer), Rose Cousins and Matt Barber, as well as a host of other talented musicians.
"Paul, Les and I have been making music for the last five years, and we chiselled time whenever we could to lay down tracks and discuss the songs. Paul would be on tour with the 'Cameras in Europe, and sending us ideas for keyboard tracks. Les would text message me when the mixes were up and I'd duck out of sound check to listen to them on the laptop".
The 15 songs form a set of chapters, all poking around the idea of afterlife and love. From the tongue-in-cheek 'When People Go' with its thumping piano build and Shel Silverstein/Harry Nilsen take on dying (when people go, is it like their asleep? lost to their world in a longish dream), to 'Heaven' which starts as a bystander's apology for Blackburg (all our different shapes, our different loves, they’re not wrong anymore, never were before) and curls into a cynical take on a reckoning who gets into heaven and why, each song is a strong novelette.
The song 'Smallest Wingless' paints two parents welcoming a newborn into the world, only to be told that the child is sick, and will only survive a few hours. "The premise for this song came from a friend who is a photographer volunteering with the organization www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org and hearing her stories about what parents went through." Stark lyrics (sadness is just loved wasted, with no little heart to put it inside) are beautifully framed by piano and string quartet.
“Les and Paul definitely had the creative musical vision – strings, piano, horns – all of it comes from their side of the boat. I’d come in and hear a take that had originally been guitar and suddenly there this lonely little trumpet solo, or piano arrangement that made the song perfect”.
While Cardiff admits to no particular religious affiliation (often smiling and answering ”cynically undecided”), the album's songs all poke around the idea.
"I didn't see it coming until we were listening to final mixes, and there were these elements - God as a character bumming a smoke, the idea of young children who are born only to leave quickly, our own family's experience with faith ‘healers’. There is beauty in some faith-based stories and ideas that has been co-opted by the political right, by those who prey on the insecurity of others. The album pokes at them to not poison it for everyone."
The album has support from national radio outlets who are confirming singles for airplay, and also upcoming placement on a syndicated television series. "The strangest response has been from some clubs/DJ's - mostly campus - who have been asking to play 'When People Go' (with the chorus of 'good night, go home, there is nothing more to see here’) as their 'end of night' song. I thanked them for their interest, but mentioned that it is a song about funerals and might not be appropriate. I actually wrote it for my daughter to explain funerals for when she starts asking those questions. They said they wanted it anyways, that it was a perfect way to send out a room - who am I to argue?"
The album is being supported with over 50 dates in the US and Canada this fall (listed at www.craigcardiff.com) , and is available at performances, as well as at select stores, through iTunes, Maplemusic.com and CDbaby.com.
ABOUT CRAIG CARDIFF
Cardiff challenges the typical music industry approach to touring and recording. He asks that his audience invite him into their living rooms; literally, to host living room shows. A pioneer in alternate venue touring in churches, basements, festivals, kitchens and the street, Cardiff brings the philosophy to life, by offering recordings of these shows available to fans as free downloads.
Cardiff's voice has been described as 'warm, scratched, sad and sleepy' and his songs are landscapes that expose the human condition, putting magnifying glasses to the clumsier and less proud moments.
Armed with sardonic sincerity and polished awkwardness, Cardiff’s performances are a mix of story and song, and occasional brawls. “I think that the best shows are the ones where the lights are low, the music weaves in and out and the people forget where the audience begins and the performer ends,” says Cardiff.
Cardiff’s commitment to his music is mirrored in his approach to touring and recording during the past ten years. Live recordings, self-produced albums that range in sound experimentation and collaborations comprise his 11 albums, available as part of the MapleMusic/WordOfMouth Music Catalogue.
Craig has played with and opened for some of the best artists around, including Glen Phillips, Lucy Kaplansky, Dan Bern, Natalia Zukerman, Andy Stochansky, Sarah Harmer, Kathleen Edwards, Blue Rodeo, Gordon Downie (Tragically Hip), Hawksley Workman, Sarah Slean, Skydiggers, 54-40 and more. Catch Craig out on the road this fall 2007 in the US and Canada in support of 'Goodnight (Go home).