Wherever the name of Kyp Harness appears, the term “Songwriter’s-songwriter” soon follows. While often used ambiguously, in Kyp’s case it’s very accurate: his most fervent fans are other songwriters from both the folk and alternative music circles. Daniel Lanois, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Ron Sexsmith, Townes Van Zandt, Bob Wiseman and Bob Snider have all tipped their hats to Kyp. Focusing on the songwriting aspect of the creative process has brought more than a decade of recordings from Kyp, each with critical acclaim and recognition from the sort of folks who pay attention to such stuff. From local reviewers to national campus radio to international publications, Kyp has received rave reviews from those who seek out good music, while still flying under the radar of the mainstream star-making mechanisms of this industry.
Versatility in his writing enables Kyp to be a swaggering punk at one moment and a poignant folk balladeer the next. A natural storyteller, his lyrics are rich in detail, emotional and filled with poetic metaphors. Sometimes stripped down into a songwriter and sometimes backed with a band the delivery is always slightly off-centre but always deeply personal. Kyp is a performer that can project his personality from the stage, winning over audiences with sheer energy and by refusing to compromise the spirit of the song in any circumstance.
Since Kyp Harness’ last album Armageddon Blues (2014) was composed exclusively of socio/political rants, he felt he could stretch back into the familial, the personal and love territories with the 10 songs on his new album – Stoplight Moon.
For this – his 13th imprint- Kyp turned to Juno winning producer John Critchley (Dan Mangan, Elliott Brood, The Once) to produce, record and mix the album at his own Green Door Studios in Parkdale Toronto. “We got the live spontaneous sound I’ve always loved but John got me to focus on my vocals and guitar and piano so they’re all in tune,” Harness says. Harness was chuffed to learn that Critchley used to cover Kyp’s song “The Man in the Green Shirt” with his band 13 Engines.
Augmented by Critchley’s sensibility, Harness brings a new intimacy to these tunes and tales. His small town, blue collar roots shine through – (Kyp is from Sarnia Ontario) – the album image of Kyp playing guitar for his grandparents sums it up poignantly- funny and a little sad. “These are all songs from the tree of life,” says Kyp, and the album includes a song about commitment (‘Anniversary Song’), the birth of a child (‘Still Learning’), the pain passed down through generations (‘I Hurt’), and loss (‘Miss You When You Go’). In the songs of ‘Stoplight Moon’ , Kyp generously reveals the many sides of himself: a dad, a son, a husband. Listening to the record is like flipping through an old photo album – exploring multiple layers of an artist coming to maturity.
Harness’ third book but first novel, ‘Wigford Rememberies’, (stories set in the fictional small town of “Wigford”) will be published May 2016 by Nightwood Editions(www.nightwoodeditions.com)
Spotlight Moon will be independently released on CD and digitally March 22, 2016. The release show in Toronto at The Dakota Tavern- Thursday March 24. EARLY SHOW- 7-9 pm – Kyp Harness with a band! And guests!