Singer Jimmy Rankin is pumped about hitting the road and introducing his new collection of tunes to Canadian audiences.
He plays The Hideout in Red Deer on May 12. Fans will of course hear plenty from his past discs along with works from his newly-released Forget About the World.
The project has been described as ‘a decidedly jubilant songwriter record that celebrates love and life with a fervour.’ Rankin himself admits his music is tough to categorize, having tapped effectively into genres ranging from rock to roots to Celtic.
This time around, he opted for a CD brimming with rich, warm country sensibilities.
“I knew I wanted to make a country record, but not a straight ahead country record,” he explains. “I wanted it to be something more, something quiet in places, something reflective – and maybe something that did feel from the heart.”
Rankin’s last disc, 2007’s Edge of Day, was primarily a roots project. He didn’t want to abandon that style completely for Forget About the World, but rather push his creative energies to new, unexplored places.
The results soar as clearly seen in the CD’s first reflective single Here in My Heart which features superstar singer/guitarist Keith Urban.
Their connection stretches back to the 2002 CCMAs in Calgary, and the two hit the road together in 2003.
“As luck would have it, he agreed to guest on the track. He brought a lot of that great energy that comes from playing onstage every night. It’s a whole different kind of vibe, very live. I like to have that kind of punch on my records, because I think it hits people differently, and Keith’s playing adds a very cool dimension to the song.”
Serena Ryder brings her velvety vocal magic to Walk That Way.
“I wrote Walk That Way with a girl (Christina Martin) from Halifax. We’d been talking about the paths our lives had taken, and she was looking back on her days in Austin being married and going out on an adventure.
“I liked the idea of traveling, passing through towns alone or with that one other person for hours and hours at a time. It’s an adventure, but it’s more. And I’ve never recorded a duet with a girl like this. Given the story and who that woman is, I wanted someone with guts – and that was Serena, whom I’ve been a fan of since I first heard her.”
Over the years Rankin has been spending more time in Nashville, and is certainly being influenced by its compelling blend of music-making history and legendary charm. He also enlisted producer Bill Bell to lend his prolific skills to Forget About the World.
“He understands that I want my records to be an interesting listening experience, that I want to perform songs that really hit home for people. It means a lot to me that I get letters from people about how my music has been a soundtrack of sorts during big moments in their lives – birth, death, weddings, break ups.”
Recorded at Bell’s Soleil Studio, Orange Studio and Canterbury Music, Forget About The World indeed boasts an impressive band including drummer Gary Craig, Gary Breit on keys, guitarist Colin Cripps, bassist John Dymond, fiddler Craig Eastman and Kenny Greer on pedal steel.
“We work-shopped some of the songs, got proper demos – and in that the colours emerged. You have to trust the process of it. Sometimes it’s live with a drummer, bass player and maybe a piano, then we overdubbed layers. The acoustic stuff was often just me, Bill, and a couple of guitars – for better or worse.”
While the songs on Forget About The World run the gamut from country/pop to more stripped-down singer songwriter offerings, it wasn’t a particular style, a particular form, or a particular emotion that informed his writing.
“When I sit down and write, I just want to write a good song. Whether it be a story, conversation or whatever it has to make me feel something. It needs to be real to me, whether it’s a slice of my life, something I’ve heard, or someone I’m writing with has experienced.”