NEW VISION- Singer Slaid Cleaves joins Michael O’Conner for a performance at The Matchbox Theatre Oct. 29.

Texas-based singer brings artistry to City

It’s been just about two decades since Texas-based singer Slaid Cleaves released his debut disc. And quite the artistic journey since.

Joined by Michael O’Connor, Cleaves performs at The Matchbox on Oct. 29. Doors open at 7 p.m. with showtime set for 7:30 p.m.

Cleaves’ first disc was entitled The Promise. His latest project 2009’s Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away, and his current tour is the first time in years that local audiences will be able to enjoy his extraordinary talents in comparatively intimate venues.

Cleaves’ tunes offer listeners a rich, creative journey – the honesty and authenticity of what he produces is consistently striking. His clear, strong vocal talents compliment the music and lyrics perfectly – a wonderful gift considering his penchant for telling stories through song.

Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away follows 2006’s Unsung, a collection of covers. Of course, there has been lots of classics surfacing as Cleaves’ journey has unfolded including No Angel Knows, Horseshoe Lounge, Broke Down, One Good Year, New Year’s Day, Wishbones and Drinking’ Days.

“I’ve been putting out records for 12, 15 years now, so most of the people who listen to this kind of music know who I am,” Cleaves says. “So I was very concerned with the possibility of inducing yawns if I were to just put out the same kind of record. And to reflect the different feel of this record I felt it needed to be presented differently.

As to the CD, it certainly has a distinct feel to it, he explains.

“Whether it’s your loved ones, your way of life, or even just your sense of innocence and hope, every song in some way is about how it all gets taken away.”

His latest project also saw him begin with a new label.

“Their (the songs’) success or failure will have a huge impact on my life for years to come. I figured, I cut my own hair, I fix my own car — so why shouldn’t I be the one responsible for getting this work of mine out into the world?”

Michael O’Connor has been described as a man of ‘humble integrity’ with a passion for playing music ‘for the sake of the song’. Like Cleaves, there is a rare honesty and purity to his music. A slightly gritty vocal style does much to inject the tunes with life as well.

It’s a treat for listeners that artists like O’Connor have remained so true to themselves – there isn’t a hint of insincerity to be found throughout his catalogue. He merely tells it like it is. Incredibly, he wasn’t gung ho to introduce his own tunes to the masses.

“Ray [Wylie] was the one who encouraged me to write my songs and start recording,” O’Connor says. “I probably never would have done that otherwise. Before that, I’d been writing, but I’d never had the money or gumption to pursue recording.

The attention to his own development has paid off — these days, he could opt to devote all of his time and energy to promoting his own career. But he’s not about to abandon collaborating with fellow artists.

“I take it from a real blue collar approach,” he says. “Like, this is what I do, I’m good at it, I’ve got my tools and I can go to work with these people I really respect.”

For ticket information, visit www.thematchbox.ca or call 403-341-6500.

mweber@reddeerexpress.com

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