Contemporary folk-roots duo, The Strange Valentines, kick off the new GDW year with this latest single, one that they purposely released on New Years’ Eve as a final farewell to the rotten apple that was 2020, sending a forgettable ‘burning house’ of a year firmly into the realm of ‘past tense.’ Offering their unique brand of “folk music for the twisted soul,” this duo of Australian David Farrell and Nova Scotian Janet Mills once again shine with just an acoustic guitar, a mandolin, and their stunning dual harmonies. “It was kind of a two-step / Round and round they would go / Their face alight / In the red and orange glow,” they recite. “They dance unaware / They dance with no care / The Burning House waltz / Let’s go round once more.”
Since releasing their acclaimed album, “Forks,” amid the early stages of the pandemic in April 2020, life as we know it changed for us all, and was no different for The Strange Valentines. This new single was written during the time that Nova Scotia was in semi-lockdown, and in the duo’s small community of River John, both Janet and David suddenly had plenty of time to reflect on their immediate surroundings and environment. They saw the planet gradually start to heal, as everyone stayed home, the smog drifting away from cities thanks to less pollution, and animals coming out of hiding. And from these observations, “Burning House Waltz” was born; a dance for us humans who are often unaware of the destruction we cause, who continue to dance the dance of complacency that consumes our daily lives.
“While humans have been busier than ever working towards their continually escalating goals, the world has been suffering,” the duo share. “As much as many of us think we care about the important environmental issues that are wreaking havoc on our beloved planet, the reality is that many of us humans are so busy keeping the pace up on [our] own personal treadmills that we barely give it a glance.” “It started out small / But it burned in the night / I first saw the squirrels / Scamper by in their fright / We don’t know the cause / No one remembers the spark / But the heat, it’s been building / And we never did learn.”
“Burning House Waltz” was not only produced by David, captured live on the floor with minimal processing and additions, but the concept and melody originated from thoughts he continually returned to about a house being symbolic of the world. Janet would continue with the theme, the lyrics forming in her head as she was out running one morning. “When I walked in the front door, I started writing them down on my trusty tablet with sweaty hand marks,” she recalls. “It was one of those songs that came about quickly and nearly exactly just how it fell out.”
So long 2020. Consider yourself banished. We’ve all made it through the holidays, where we were reminded constantly to drink responsibly. It’s a new year, and a fresh start, and with these wise words from Janet and David, it’s now time to once again think responsibly. “Burn oh it burned / A spectacle delight / It took out the houses / With a terrible might / Most everything gone / Just a few now remain / In their strong sturdy houses / And they play this refrain.”
The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.