When David Leask reflects on the reasoning behind his latest release, “6/8 feels like a musical home to me, a signature of time, a sense of place” he sounds like a man at peace with his surroundings and the creative process. It’s hardly surprising then that the six songs on this fantastic EP are so impressive, even if the initial idea seems a little off-kilter. Six songs recorded in a 6/8 time signature might sound a little strange until you realise the great range that 6/8 allows, especially when coupled with superior tunes. If you’re wondering about 6/8 then think of it as a variation on a waltz—a lilt if you will—and you’ve got the idea. Many of your favourite songs will have been written in this time signature, trust me we’re not talking weird Frank Zappa approved strangeness here.
To get the songs just right Leask recorded in a range of locations with stops in Montreal, Toronto, Nashville and Muscle Shoals utilising eleven different studios and ten sound engineers as he and co-producer/guitarist Justin Abedin perfected each song on the EP. The record was then mixed by Chad Carlson and mastered by Peter Moore (Bob Dylan) both Grammy Award winners with impressive results as you would expect.
‘Indescribable’ opens proceedings and finds a tongue-tied Leask at his most romantic with Abedin’s smart lead guitar fills adding colour. ‘Red Balloon’ a co-write with Alec Steinwall follows and Leask, Scottish by birth but now resident in Canada, embraces his Celtic roots and perfectly captures the melancholy of a 6/8 tune as we follow Amy through the events of her life. Leask beautifully conveys just how important even the most insignificant event can be to us at the time; from losing a balloon as a child to divorce and the loss of a loved one. Rob Ickes’ Dobro; Loretta Reid's flute, whistle and concertina and Doug Romanow’s accordion further enhance storytelling that is sure to resonate with many listeners. ‘Caught in the Tide’ finds a couple at the crossroads of their relationship but I’m hopeful those rising guitars are emphasising the chance of a positive outcome.
The piano ballad ‘When You Think No One Loves You’ sounds both sparse yet remarkably full due to Jonathan Goldsmith adding deft touches of B3 organ to his piano lines while Quisha Wint’s superb backing vocals sound like a full gospel choir. ’Can’t Make It Back Home’ is another gem that reminds me of Billy Joel circa ‘The Nylon Curtain’. Dealing with the issue of returning from conflict and PTSD ‘Can’t Make It Back Home’ finds Leask in fine vocal form while that gentle, syncopated electric guitar part lurking underneath blends beautifully with Kevin Fox’s cello. The album concludes with ‘Between Him & Me’ a rousing look at the relationship we have with whichever faith we follow.
‘Six in 6/8’ does more in 20+ minutes than many albums do in 60. Expertly produced and performed by a first-rate selection of musicians this is a terrific record full to the brim with fantastic songs. This one has been out for a little while but it really is well worth your time to track it down.