The depth of Aidan Knight’s compositional style and wry, heartfelt lyricism has been burning like the embers of a fire about catch since 2010’s Versicolour.
When Aidan Knight’s Versicolour was released ten years ago this past March, CBC Radio 3 was in its heyday and I was a big fan of Dan Mangan. Soon after Versicolour came out, I saw this video of Knight and then tourmate Mangan, wearing a CBC Radio 3 toque, singing Knight’s ultra-catchy song “Jasper” somewhere in the Rocky Mountains and I became an immediate fan of Knight’s. When Knight and Mangan played Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern in April 2010, I couldn’t go because I was underage so instead I caught their in-store performances at a record store (RIP Criminal Records) and I bought Versicolour on CD.
“Jasper,” the closing track of Versicolour,is the record’s hit. It’s a catchy CBC-core song that makes you clap and sing along; the walk-down from the G chord to the C in the chorus is delicious. But it’s on the rest of Versicolour where Knight really shines. He uses less of the conventional folk-pop soundscape heard on “Jasper” and wades instead into an expansive world of chamber-pop and folk-rock. It’s in these songs that the depth of Knight’s compositional style and wry, heartfelt lyricism — which has grown stronger with every subsequent release — burns like the embers of a fire about catch.
On Versicolour, Knight is backed by a bunch of musical heavyweights who at the time were playing as “pocket pop orchestra” The O’Darling: Jennah Barry, Colin Nealis, David Barry, Olivier Clements, Chantel Emond, Ida Maidstone, and Galen Pelley. On songs like “The Sun” and “Knitting Something Nice,” Knight and his orchestra steadily grow louder and match the youthful intensity of heartbreak with passionate gang vocals and the cry of a flugelhorn. The extended outro of “Fighting Against Your Lungs” is one of the strongest examples of the richness that the team behind the album conjures together.
In the chorus of “Altar Boys,” a deeply wistful, love-sick, rhodes-led track, Knight (next to the tender croons of Barry) sings, “this thirst that I have, may it never be quenched.” Six years later, on the track “You Are Not Here” from his album Each Other, Knight returns to this line. This time the soundscape is jagged and fraught and the love he sings about is messily tangled in his career, marred by grueling days on the road and his doubts. But Knight once again pleads for his love (for his career; for his now wife and musical collaborator Julia) to not run out — “this thirst that I have, may it never be quenched.”
On the closing track (“These Days”) from his forthcoming self-titled album (due out August 28th on Next Door Records), Knight turns his attention back to a time when Versicolour was likely written. He sings of moving to California in 2008 and trying to pick up work as a session musician. Knight looks back at this time filled with over a decade worth of experiences, a child, and his thirst still intact. Instead of worrying, he concludes: “it’s all going to work out one of these days.”