With plans to attend a show on a Monday evening in Southern Ontario, we made the decision a few weeks ago to drive north on the Sunday, and allow ourselves the opportunity to have a leisurely Monday before our evening show. Of course, with the knowledge of an added night to this trip, I quickly looked to see if there were any shows of interest between Niagara Falls and Hamilton area for the Sunday. Lo and behold, one of my search results yielded an early evening show with Black Suit Devil in Hamilton. This was an easy decision to make, and was an easy detour on a Sunday afternoon to The Collective Arts Brewery and Tap Room for some great live music and Ontario beer.
Having very recently heard and reviewed “A Matter Of Time,” the upcoming single from Black Suit Devil, the timing could not have worked out any better for us to finally catch up with singer-songwriter Andy Du Rego. Performing in a solo-acoustic setting on this given night, we would take delight in hearing many of the amazing compositions from his 2017 debut “The Freedom Sessions” album. With the recent announcement of a new album currently being in the final stages of completion, Andy would naturally ‘road-test’ a selection of new tracks that are destined for inclusion on his sophomore release too.
“The Freedom Sessions” continues to be one of a handful of albums that I frequently return to. The outstanding combination of acoustic-soul and roots music, along with Du Rego’s well-crafted lyrics and subtle inclusion of various social and political issues, both provoke awareness and foster a deeper connection with the sharp intellect of this artist. And on this given evening, Black Suit Devil would not disappoint, cranking out some of those highly charged tracks such as “Bullets,” “Fumble,” and “Blind Man.” For me, hearing these performed in this solo-acoustic environment, completely stripped the album versions of Neil Cameron’s violin and Jules Cardoso’s backing vocals (that I could still hear in the back of my mind); thus offering a completely different and highly-appreciated interpretation of songs I am very familiar with.
As the first single to be released from his upcoming album (release date April 25th), Andy Du Rego performed “A Matter Of Time,” and having recently reviewed the studio version of this single, this stripped down rendition sans the brass band, gave this a completely different twist. He would share a handful of other new compositions on this evening, and I truly hope that they all find their way to being included on the new album. Du Rego would announce that the track, “Firefly,” was also going to be released as a single, hinting that it may be out sometime in July. “This one is about getting into some trouble in the Catskill Mountains In New York with some good friends at a rock show,” he added.
There were two new tracks in particular that stood out for me. “January” is an incredibly uplifting and emotional piece about dealing with loss. “It’s a song I wrote for my grandmother, who helped raise me,” Andy explained. “She passed away when I was really young, and I didn’t get a chance to thank her and tell her that I love her.” In a complete contrast, “Queer Boy Blues” is an incredibly upbeat and catchy tongue-in-cheek number. “It’s a little bluegrass number that I’ve got on the upcoming record. It’s about strength and power.”
With a Bob Dylan track, and a trio of Ray LaMontagne tracks thrown into the mix, Andy Du Rego delivered fifteen stunning tunes. If I had to pick one to best represent his finest choice, the new tune “Main Street” is worthy of such distinction. Written whilst spending time in Vancouver, BC, Andy would share a tale of arriving in a part of the city called Hastings, and his disbelief in finding out first-hand that this area has possibly the largest concentration of homeless people in Canada. “I could not believe the devastation in front of me,” he stated. “And across the street just a short walk away was a music festival…and I was absolutely stunned seeing all these people having a good time, and then turning slightly and seeing the by-product of our society; the poverty, mental-illness and drugs. I started writing this one as soon as I got back to my hotel that night.”
- Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You (Bob Dylan cover)
- Firefly ***New Track***
- Let It Be Me (Ray LaMontagne cover)
- Blind Man
- Queer Boy Blues ***New Track***
- Heart Of Sin ***New Track***
- Killer Of Dreams (Ray LaMontagne cover)
- A Matter Of Time *** New Track***
- January ***New Track***
- Main Street *New Track***
- I Blame Us All ***New Track***
- Jolene (Ray LaMontagne cover)