Saved By Vinyl
These are trying times. We could all use a little hope.
Continuing on a path first forged by 2018’s critically acclaimed Tantramar album and its even more lauded follow-up, Guts, in 2019, Eamon McGrath unveils Bells of Hope this February, the third in a trilogy of releases defined by an ever-evolving and maturing sound by the road-hardened, working class Canadian musician.
Tantramar and Guts saw McGrath move away from the trademark bombastic and savage rock and roll of his early years into a new era of growth, celebrating and embracing new sounds, atmospheres and textures. Moving past the tarnished and primal Neil Young-meets-Black Flag approach of his early twenties, Tantramar and Guts saw McGrath channel inner darknesses, turning somber and harsh experiences into moments of beautiful noise.
On 2022’s Bells of Hope, however, McGrath moves in an even prettier, ambient direction, incorporating sonic influences as diverse as Talk Talk, Brian Eno, and Alice Coltrane into his familiar palette of rock and country-laden Canadiana. While not only shedding the guitar-forward technique which characterized the McGrath of the late 2000s and 2010s, but also the doom and gloom of his last two albums, this new decade brings to light an artist who leaves no sound unexplored and no idea off-limits.
Wrapping up the interrupted Guts tour, and also “frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog”— as McGrath describes—to return to the stage, summer and fall of 2021 saw McGrath play over 70 shows across Canada showcasing some of Bells of Hope’s new material, ahead of the curve of most artists who waited until well later in the year. “The second I was vaccinated and it was safe to do so,” McGrath recalls, “I started playing shows again immediately. I was alone out there on the road. The feeling of relief from being back at work and doing what I was put on this earth to do was indescribable.” Now back on tour for good, and with Bells of Hope being the first of over eight records recorded by McGrath over the course of 2020, it’s no wonder why he is frequently described as the hardest-working musician in independent Canadian music.
McGrath also shines a light on some of his most treasured relationships built from a decade spent touring the world. Some of Canada’s most glowing talents collaborated with McGrath on Bells of Hope, including Julie Doiron, Miesha Louie, and Joyful Joyful’s Cormac Culkeen. In this digital world, Eamon McGrath represents the most analog form of artistry. Within his never-ending tour, McGrath has also created a record meant to be heard front to back in one setting: a classic album in a world of disposable singles. The result is Eamon McGrath’s most exploratory, reverential and optimistic release to date.
Beginning in winter of 2022, McGrath is embarking on an international tour in support of Bells of Hope, with Canadian, UK and European tour dates just announced.