Grappling with the absurdities of living in North America is Whitehorse’s Jona Barr (aka Old Cabin).
Like most cuts from his latest album Saturn Return, “I Got You” is a deceptively upbeat folk-rock tune with critical undertones and shades of disapproval in the songwriter’s voice. The album is confidently precise and careful, covering subjects of addiction, trauma, and the residential school system.
“I don’t think they or the rest of the room got the point of the song…”
“The funny, ironic thing is that I played [“I Got You”] at an event for Prince William and Kate the Duchess when they were in [Whitehorse],” said Barr in an email. “They were pretty stoked on it. Kate said she was afraid Will would get up and start dancing…
“I don’t think they or the rest of the room got the point of the song, but I’m okay with that. The whole thing was pretty outrageous if you ask me.”
What Barr seems to be questioning is the condition we’re in. At the top of the song he sings, “the luster’s gone away,” and in the chorus, Barr repeats lyrics like: “robbed me senseless and blind… wouldn’t be the last time…” It’s all a bit bleak – and so unlike the song’s lively beat, Barr’s peppy melody and a rollicking guitar solo around the two-minute mark. But then, you see, Barr has quite the sense of humour.
“Overall, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by what I was seeing all over social media and in the news… and decided to write a song about it. I thought it would be funny to write some sort of accessible, classic rock or pop tune that sounded like a typical love song but had more to do with how messed up North American culture is.”
Joined by fellow Yukoner Fiona Solon, Barr goes out on tour next month with a group of Ottawa musicians in his backing band; Yolande Laroche, Jeff Kingsbury and Julien Dussault of Pony Girl.
Old Cabin and The Heavy Medicine Band will perform on July 20 at Pressed (750 Gladstone Ave). Doors open at 8pm and the music begins at 8:30pm. Admission costs $10 at the door. See Facebook for more details.