New Blues/Rock: Bywater Call — ‘Remain’

Label: Gypsy Soul Records

This is what you call a band. And what a band they are! Toronto-based band Bywater Call have a love for blues, soul, and roots music, and they’ve made a convincing argument for all three genres on their most recent release. Remain features Meghan Parnell’s powerful vocals and Dave Barnes’ equally emotive slide guitar.

Bywater Call is Meghan Parnell (vocals), Dave Barnes (slide guitar), Bruce McCarthy (drums), Mike Meusel (bass), Alan Zemaitis (keyboards), Stephen Dyte (trumpet), and Julian Nalli (tenor sax).

The album, which evokes an atmosphere of determined directness, was produced by Renan Yildizdogan. It delivers highly polished blues/rock with admirable production values, stellar musicianship, and satisfying vocal breaks. It is sometimes gritty, sometimes accusatory, sometimes hopeful, and always engaging. There’s a lot to listen to, and it’s a pleasure.

“We chose Remain as a title, both because of the track, but also in reference to our coping method through the pandemic.  With no foreseeable end date during the lockdown, a lot of musicians we knew were thinking about calling it quits. We were choosing to stick it out and stay put!”

“Armed with an acoustic guitar and desire to grow as writers and musicians, with ‘Falls Away’ we sketched out a fiery ode to our personal existential crises and to the socio-political climate at home and across the world today,” admits Parnell. “ Underneath it all, stripped down to the core, we are all flawed humans looking for meaning, purpose and trying to navigate our way through this crazy life. The song continued to take shape, as most of our tunes do, after bringing it to the full band to workshop.”

“The second ballad, ‘Locked,’ can be described as a pandemic love song: a sparse and haunting melody that showcases off the top an emotional fragility in Meg’s voice not often heard, and  builds to massive payoff featuring a full choir,” says Barnes. “The song was inspired by our time together in lockdown: seeing our shared goals and passions seemingly fade away, and feeling the urgency to write new music in what was for us, a very uninspiring time, and dealing with the strain this put on our relationship.”

Both “Locked” and “Falls Away” were developed along with good friend, Toronto musician and producer Tom Juhas, who helped to draw out the passion and musicality intended for these tunes.

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