Propelled by raw lyricism and earthy production, Dylan Ireland’s debut solo album Every Other Night is a powerful statement from an artist ready to carve out new folk-rock terrain.
The Peterborough, Ontario-based singer/songwriter has already made his mark on the Canadian music scene through his former band Express And Company, whose 2013 album, Ontario, contained the well-received single “Carry Me Along.”
With Every Other Night, Ireland has entered a new phase, building upon his past work with a fresh and fearless songwriting approach now all his own. Co-produced by Ireland and James McKenty (Blue Rodeo, Michelle McAdorey, Matthew Barber), Every Other Night’s stellar cast of contributors includes guitarists Jim Bryson and Gord Tough (Kathleen Edwards), drummer Loel Campbell (Wintersleep) and bassist Anna Ruddick (Daniel Romano, Bry Webb, Randy Bachman).
Overall, the album is not so much a transition from leading a band to being a solo artist, as it is merely another step in Ireland’s musical evolution. As Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor told him, why have a band when you’ve got a rock star name?
What the 11 songs on Every Other Night display more than anything is the confidence that only comes from taking complete control of your creative identity. And in many ways, the album is also a testament to how Ireland has dealt with personal challenges over the past couple of years.
Standout tracks like “Hard Enough” and “It Goes Bad” are marked by an omnipresent rumble, reminiscent of Kings Of Leon or recent Springsteen, that provides the foundation for Ireland’s gripping vocals. Elsewhere, the rough and ready twang of “Time And Again” and “Downtown Habit” reimagines classic Americana, much like Ryan Adams did upon leaving his band Whiskeytown. Then there are the atmospheric ballads “Behind The Scenes” and “Silver Screen,” painted with broad strokes of haunting pedal steel, which reveal the depth of Ireland’s songwriting.
Ireland grew up in a musical family in southern Ontario, getting his first exposure to live music through the band his father and uncles played in. He formed the Ireland Brothers with his sibling Daniel, which remained active until 2010, at which point he formed Express And Company. The group made an immediate impact on the local scene, and with the release of Ontario, they were playing coast to coast. No Depression described the album as, “eight delightful songs with a fine-tuned ease capable of warming hearts, lifting spirits and encouraging community with none of the usual gimmickry that often tempts lesser bands.”
Every Other Night proves that Dylan Ireland still has the capacity to do all of those things, but with added dimensions. The wealth of experience, both personally and professionally, he’s gathered over the past five years has been channeled into this album, resulting in an essential addition to the Canadian folk-rock canon. The album may be called Every Other Night, but Dylan Ireland clearly never takes a night off when it comes to his music.