“Don’t, you be so mean / My Jellybean / My Boston crème / Don’t, you be so mean / My beauty queen / My movie screen.”
JUNO Award winning songwriter Justin Rutledge is excited to announce news of his upcoming album, “Islands,” which shall be available in March, via Outside Music. He also shares the first taste of his new tunes here today, with this single, “Jellybean.” For those of you already familiar with the artist, and especially who have experienced his music live in concert, this song may not be unknown to you. But for those who have not had the pleasure to enjoy an evening of music with Justin Rutledge, “Jellybean” is possibly his most requested live track, and often used as the energetic and crowd-participating finale to his show. Yet, this crowd favorite has never made its way into the studio – until now.
“Slow, man Lord be slow / Where my money go / Man, I don’t know / Slow, man Lord by slow / Where my money goes / Hell, we don’t know.”
Back in the Spring of 2018, when travelling and concerts were all the rage (before Covid hit the pause button on fun and frolics), I had the pleasure of catching Justin live at an intimate house concert in downtown Toronto – with some good friends in tow. With no amps, no microphones, and no sound tech, but armed only with his acoustic guitar and tuner, Justin filled the room with a great mix of music from his entire back catalog, some pre-determined, and others taken by request mid-set. Sharing both popular cuts and lesser-performed tracks, everybody remained engaged with the artist all evening – so, of course, once Justin offered his closing number as a request, “Jellybean” was the unanimous choice. I had heard Justin play on many occasions, but this was, and remains, the only opportunity I’ve had to hear and experience this moment for myself, and it is a truly remarkable life-moment as a quiet music room transforms into a fully blown choir.
“She’s the girl for me / She brings me tea / From olive trees / She’s the girl for me / Half make-believe / I’m half-asleep.”
Given the popularity of this track amongst his fans, I’m sure that Justin had many reservations about committing “Jellybean” to the forthcoming album. “I’ve always been cautious about recording Jellybean on an album because it is such a ‘live’ song,” he shares. “I’ve tried a few times in the past, but it never made the cut.” Given the sing-along nature of this tune at those live shows, Justin knew that this vibe had to be captured in the studio, and quickly enlisted some good friends to lend their voices; an extensive ensemble comprised of Matthew Barber, David Baxter, Rebecca Hunt, Dan Mangan, Blake Manning, Kara Manovitch, Annelise Noronha, and Kate Rogers. “I think I finally captured the essence of the song with this recording,” Justin adds.
“Blow, November blow / My sweetheart home / Before the snow / Blow, November blow / My sweetheart home / Before the snow.”
With his upcoming album, “Islands,” Justin not only introduces “Jellybean” to a wider audience, he also takes the opportunity to reimagine and rework several of his popular hits. He deems the album to be a retrospective, an opportunity to revisit a rich catalog that spans eight albums, and re-record them in the way they were conceived: alone, with minimal accompaniment, as if the listener is seated right there in his kitchen as the songs are composed. And for those who recall his 2014 “Daredevil” album – itself, a personal homage to the music of The Tragically Hip, Rutledge adds a new, previously unreleased Hip cover as part of this new collection. These songs have been given a new lease of life that will not only resonate with his long-time fans, but shall provide a compelling introduction to those who may only now be discovering his vast and remarkable songbook.
“Don’t, you be so mean / My beauty queen / My movie screen / Don’t you be so mean / My Jellybean / My Boston crème.”