Propelled by raw lyricism and earthy production, Dylan Ireland’s debut solo album Every Other Night is a powerful statement from an artist ready to carve out new folk-rock terrain.

The Peterborough, Ontario-based singer/songwriter has already made his mark on the Canadian music scene through his former band Express And Company. Their 2013 album, Ontario, contained the single “Carry Me Along,” which received heavy airplay on CBC Radio 2 and 3, and helped land showcases at the Mariposa Folk Festival and the Peterborough Folk Festival—he earned the Emerging Artist Award at both—as well as South By Southwest.

With Every Other Night, Ireland has entered a new phase, building upon his past work with a fresh and fearless songwriting approach now all his own. Co-produced by Ireland and James McKenty (Blue Rodeo, Michelle McAdorey, Matthew Barber), Every Other Night’s stellar cast of contributors includes guitarists Jim Bryson and Gord Tough (Kathleen Edwards), drummer Loel Campbell (Wintersleep) and bassist Anna Ruddick (Daniel Romano, Bry Webb, Randy Bachman).

Overall, the album is not so much a transition from leading a band to being a solo artist, as it is merely another step in Ireland’s musical evolution. As Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor told him, why have a band when you’ve got a rock star name?

What the 11 songs on Every Other Night display more than anything is the confidence that only comes from taking complete control of your creative identity. And in many ways, the album is also a testament to how Ireland has dealt with personal challenges over the past couple of years.

“That’s certainly a theme on the album,” he admits. “A lot of it is quite personal, referring to my battles with anxiety, depression and addiction. But there were other things I had in mind for this album. I knew during the writing process that I wanted to explore more mature, bigger, alt-rock sounds. I’m very proud of the Express And Company album and what it achieved, but this time I was looking to try a different, less folky approach.”

With Every Other Night, Ireland has entered a new phase, building upon his past work with a fresh and fearless songwriting approach now all his own.
Indeed, standout tracks like “Hard Enough” and “It Goes Bad” are marked by an omnipresent rumble, reminiscent of Kings Of Leon or recent Springsteen, that provides the foundation for Ireland’s gripping vocals. Elsewhere, the rough and ready twang of “Time And Again” and “Downtown Habit” reimagines classic Americana, much like Ryan Adams did upon leaving his band Whiskeytown. Then there are the atmospheric ballads “Behind The Scenes” and “Silver Screen,” painted with broad strokes of haunting pedal steel, which reveal the depth of Ireland’s songwriting.

Above all, and for obvious reasons, the song “Peterborough” holds particular meaning for Ireland as a tribute to his adopted hometown. “That song is actually older than the others, and I’ve sort of been keeping it in my back pocket,” Ireland says. “I moved to Peterborough in 2010 and immediately fell in love with the city. It’s full of great songwriters, musicians and artists of all kinds who have inspired me. It’s a city where I’ve been at my highest and also lowest within. ‘Peterborough’ was written during the first year or so of living here, and if I wrote a song with that title now I’m sure it would be quite different.”

Ireland grew up in a musical family in southern Ontario, getting his first exposure to live music through the band his father and uncles played in. He formed the Ireland Brothers with his sibling Daniel, which remained active until 2010, at which point he formed Express And Company. The group made an immediate impact on the local scene, and with the release of Ontario, they were playing coast to coast. No Depression described the album as, “eight delightful songs with a fine-tuned ease capable of warming hearts, lifting spirits and encouraging community with none of the usual gimmickry that often tempts lesser bands.”

Every Other Night proves that Dylan Ireland still has the capacity to do all of those things, but with added dimensions. The wealth of experience, both personally and professionally, he’s gathered over the past five years has been channeled into this album, resulting in an essential addition to the Canadian folk-rock canon. The album may be called Every Other Night, but Dylan Ireland never takes a night off when it comes to his music.


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