Stumbling Distance is Nick Faye and The Deputies’ summer love story set under Prairie stars.
If you ask me to remember details about the summers of my youth, I’ll come up empty; just a handful of random memories about a family trip to Ottawa and swimming in my uncle’s pool are all I have. Inquire about emotional recall — the feelings of summer’s past — and instantly, the emotions of two in particular come flooding back: the summers between high school and university and the following, coming home after my freshman year. The former found me a bundle of nerves, unsure of who I was and what was happening in my life; the latter was marked by displacement and a sense that I’d become untethered and aimless, feeling like I didn’t know how to fit back into the place where I’d spent my whole life.
These sense memories come flooding back when I listen to Stumbling Distance, the latest album from Regina’s favourite sons, Nick Faye and The Deputies. Stumbling Distance is a concept album set in the Prairies concerning a summertime romance blossoming in the months after high school graduation. It explores the tensions of hometown expectations and big city dreams, the stories of “those who stay” and “those who leave”. It’s a narrative timeframe ripe with drama.
Of course, like all summer love stories, it all starts at that tumultuous intersection of adolescence and adulthood, of one’s future and past: with a party. Kicking off with a blast of horns and Michael Philip Wojewoda’s signature pristine pop production values, “There’s A Party” is as packed with the potential for romance as it is The Deputies’ airtight, countrified alt-rock. As they seamlessly slip into the swooping anthem “Told You”, Nick Faye and The Deputies move the story forward, translating the angsty restlessness of youth through the song’s narrative rhythm and infectious chorus. Subsequent chapters chronicle a booze-fuelled brawl (“Hold Me Back”), early morning regret (“Sad Eyes”), and the fiery intensity of heartbreak (“Ex Pats”).
It’s the smoldering finale, “Buffalo Lounge”, that codifies Stumbling Distance, the epilogue that brings its narrative arc to a satisfying conclusion. It’s “Buffalo Lounge” in particular that connects with me. Perhaps because it feels like remembrances as far removed from that transitional summer as I am to mine.
From this distance, it’s not the details we remember, it’s all about feeling.