Reviews of Turning To Wave
vue weekly edmonton,AB
Eden Munro March 16, 2011Turning to Wave
Taken as a whole, there's a feeling of maturity that rings through Deon Blyan's Turning to Wave. Every step along the way is a careful one: the notes here never sound wasted, the songs—most co-written by Blyan and producer James Murdoch—are steady as they move ahead on waves of crisp guitars and keys. Consistent and careful don't mean a lack of emotional peaks and valleys, though, and there are plenty of those here, the jangly folk-rock and searching lyrics of "Empty Heart" or the sad and stormy album closer "I Don't Know" among them.
Arts & Entertainment Writer March 7, 2011
Deon Blyan Turning to Wave, Independent
The Canadian folk-pop scene has found itself a new poster boy. Initially, Deon Blyan's newest album Turning to Wave appears to be yet another collection of brooding singer-songwriter accounts of love lost ("Empty Heart") and moving on ("My Lesson's Learned," "Dive Right In"). And yet, he somehow manages to craft easygoing melancholic tunes that are astonishingly uplifting and hooks that continue bouncing around in your head long after the album has ended.
Blyan's second album reunites him with Edmonton's James Murdoch, who produced and co-wrote several songs, and enlists the aid of other local talent such as the haunting vocals of F&M's Becky Anderson on the track "Earthquake.
"It seems that every writer is told at some point to write about what you know, so when you live in the wondrous expanse of flat land that is Alberta, it's no surprise that you'd want to write about anywhere but here.
Over the course of the album, Blyan takes us on a journey to the bustling cosmopolitan streets of Brooklyn, on the search for "what the fuss is about" in "Across 23rd Street," and we're even transported to a fanciful town where two worlds collide in "Winnipeg Italy." Anything that allows you to forget the frigid Canadian winter, even for a moment, is one hell of a gift.
Turning to Wave's catchy pop ballads highlight Blyan's commanding and emotional storytelling abilities. Offset with a folk-country twang reminiscent of Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy or Luke Doucet, Blyan's ability to capture a picture of the daily Canadian experience evokes an unequivocal feeling of familiarity.
Reviews of Lessons (and other things learned)
Deon in conversation about select songs from Lessons…
Francois Marchand, edmontonjournal.com
Published: Monday, November 12, 2007
Little Things, from Lessons (and Other Things Learned)
"It's a really old song - it's been around for about five years," explains Blyan. "It was probably one song I wrote very soon after recording Try To Be Kind. I played it now and again live, but I never thought it had the strength to be an album song. "There was a song that I heard that inspired me to play it - a Ben Harper song or something. I used to play very slow, very mellow. It probably came out of some ending of a relationship or whatever, but a moment where I had a clarity where you look back on certain situations in a relationship. I was looking at these big-picture things and looking too far in advance, not seeing what was happening right there at the time. It's a reminder: it's the little kind things in life that really matter."
Shine Again, from Lessons (and Other Things Learned)
"It was a real catalyst to this album actually happening," he explains. "It was a situation where I had writer's block for about a year. It's so cliche because it always comes back to relationships. I was in a long-term relationship that I hoped would get more serious and it ended. "Through the process of dealing with that, I spun through life for a couple of years dealing with it. Shine Again just came after I bought a Teddy Thompson album and listened to one of his songs. I just sat down and wrote Shine Again in its entirety. Immediately I drove to Edmonton and played for Chris Wynters at one of his open stages and said, 'OK, I really want to do this album.' The whole idea behind it is that I'm singing to myself, asking myself, 'When will the light shine again?' You've been sad long enough."We wanted to have it as a duet with Volya (Braziuk) - kind of a June Carter/Johnny Cash sort of thing where it's a bit of an argument going on in the verses. And then the chorus is asking that question: Let's stop being sad and angry, when will the light shine again? There's kind of a hope there, you know? I think in all my stuff there's a hope and a faith sort of thing."
New Sounds - Vue Weekly
Edmonton, Alberta. Oct 24 – 31. 2007
Deon Blyan Lessons (And Other Things Learned)
EDEN MUNRO / firstname.lastname@example.org
From the opening notes of “Little Things,” the lead-off track on Deon Blyan’s Lessons (And Other Things Learned), the warm tones of the record surround and comfort as Blyan’s voice soothes with a gentle reminder that it’s the little things that count. The next track, “(Tomorrow) It’ll Be Alright,” keeps the album moving with a bouncing rhythm that all but lifts you up and carries you along. Lyrically, things are still hopeful, if a shade darker, with Blyan singing “I want to change / It’s going to take me more than one night.”
There’s an unmistakable feeling of familiarity with the music, with pop-influences offset by a gentle twang that reminds of the work of Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy. Like Cuddy, Blyan has a bent for catchy, laid-back melodies and lyrics that capture the small struggles of everyday life. The rootsiness sometimes gets obscured by the wall of sound that many of the songs are built with, and the best moments happen on tracks like “Shine Again” and “Don’t Pass Me By,” both of which sound as though Blyan is right there in the room singing, but that’s not to say that something like “War and Peace” doesn’t hold a few surprises hidden away in its soaring organ and tight horns.
Quick hits (and misses) The Edmonton Journal
Published: Saturday, November 03, 2007
Album: Lessons (And Other Things Learned)
Artist: Deon Blyan
Label: Shameless Records
Review: Wowee! Where did this guy come from? Even though Deon Blyan's been skittering about the Edmonton and Calgary music scenes for a while now, he's always been more of a ghostly presence than a name rolling off every Albertan's tongue. But that's all about to change. Lessons (And Other Things Learned) is cooked with small-town geniality, prairie ponderings and nightclub shimmers, making for an album just bursting with sleek folk-pop tunes. Right from the moment The Little Things opens the disc, you'll be hooked. For life. Every track is light yet rich, with golden brown melodies cuddling right into banjo rock-outs and Blyan's sophisticated vocals. Lessons sounds so good, you'll want to gobble it up in one bite. Just remember to remove the plastic first.