A decade on, the allure and appeal of Bry Webb’s Provider endures. Senior Editor Tia Julien revisits the album that continues offering her peace in troubled times.
The easy opening of Bry Webb’s Provider takes me back almost a decade to early morning bus rides to the farmer’s market in Guelph: “Let the sun rise in the morning”. Whether recovering from a long night of studying or shenanigans, the sleepy beginnings of Saturdays were best faced with Webb’s graceful tributes to the everyday: “Carry on and play / And let the day be long.”
In November, 2021, Provider — the first solo work from the beloved Constantines founder — will celebrate its ten-year anniversary of timeless serenity. Provider is one of the few albums to seamlessly merge with my sense of being, and it’s been providing peace ever since. It was one of the first albums to invite me out of my shell as a broken-up eighteen-year-old trying to find my way out of a painful past in the small world of Guelph, Ontario.
Listening to Provider now is surreal. Even in the context of present day, the calm is still there in the pauses between hums and the depth beneath layers of harmonies. Hearing “I love this town” feels like hauling my produce to my favourite coffee place, where “I am known by everyone”. This album has been and continues to be so personally meaningful to me, but I believe it’s one of those rare works that holds transferable meaning and beauty innately.
The live recording of lap-steel, upright bass, and brass emits a warmth to rival the cold white of winter sun, and the lyrics — like so much of life — are bittersweet: “The ends are near / we’ll face the world/ in its material demanding / direct the hammer and the nail / with a certain understanding.” Keeping with the folk aesthetic, “Ex-Punks” calls back to Bry Webb’s rocker days with the Constantines: “we’ll never be again what we were when we were younger / whatever works, whatever works / the will will persist / if only to give the kids something to resist.”
Each song is a personal story with a persistent spirit, so poetic and understated that any active or passive listener can relate: “I’m sending you my mind / and everything in it”. I’m fairly certain these songs will always connect me to that greenery I had when I made my first home in Guelph. A decade later, listening to Provider is proof of the things we can keep.