This past weekend at Serenity saw a sold out crowd for Windborn’s recent album release, “Calm in Chaos.” A true labour of love in the making, and over two years since he penned the songs following immense heartbreak and life altering change, the album has arrived in a form much different than the original concept.
After touring relentlessly to and from each corner of this beautiful province and beyond, the songs emerged and evolved in new ways in response to how they sounded and were received live.
The concept of the album was this: he wrote a letter. This letter encapsulated the feelings and changes he was going through. He then sectioned the letter into song titles, and the blueprint for the album was born.
In the end, Windborn has achieved what many attempt, a sincere representation of his live show.
After seeing Windborn perform for the fifth time in the last year, I can say that not only does his live performance get better with each show (as one would only hope), but the healthy amount of curious cynicism I held after hearing how he planned to record the album on his own was shattered upon first listen to it in my truck stereo on the way home from the show.
Jeff Pike, aka Windborn, is truly one of a kind. The uniqueness in his style of music is uncanny. As is commonly said by many who have been introduced to his music over the years, it is almost unbelievable that one person can create the sound that he does. The physical coordination it entails alone is constantly impressive.
Armed with an acoustic guitar, kick drum set, looping pedals, and a variety of percussion additions, Windborn is an amalgamation of genres, styles and sounds that equates to beautifully crafted music that gets under your skin unlike anything else.
It helps that the artist himself is ridiculously easy to be around who has this lets-hang-out-everyday-and-have-a-good-time kind of vibe. Not only that, but his generous spirit and commitment to the establishment of Serenity as a recognized and respected live music venue in BC has been directly observed and appreciated by many.
Windborn is an artist who can’t tell you what chords he is playing, if any, but who literally inhabits a constant state of experimentation in creating sounds that become his music. In addition, he remains meticulously conscious of what audiences respond to and can alter his sound on a dime to fit the feel of a room. His album release show at Serenity also happened to be venue owner Shirley deVooght’s birthday, coincidentally along with many others who have become longtime Windborn fans and supporters. The night was one big celebration, including a song or two where he threw out shakers and tambourines (and maybe a disposable kazoo or two) to the crowd, much to his regret later. You just cannot anticipate the power of a passionate fan and a kazoo (yes, I am talking about you Lisa). This is not even touching on the corny pointy birthday hats and full-on paper-bagged bottles being passed around in front of the stage throughout the night. No question, it was a party, and Windborn gave a performance worth celebrating.
Along with playing every song off the new album to the Serenity living room packed to the rafters, Windborn included a few glimpses into fresh material from his writing sessions on the road, which prove that there is an unending supply of art yet to be born from the heart and soul of this special artist. Throughout his 2+ hours show, we were promised that everything we had come to love about his live performance would be waiting for us on the album…and it was.
I know online downloads continue to be the mainstream way of acquiring music, but if you can get a hold of a physical copy of Calm in Chaos, it is well worth it. The album cover is a custom designed envelope with a Windborn seal and includes lyric sheets for each song, quite the labour intensive presentation for an independent artist. The writing, music, producing, recording, mastering, and design has all been done independently, as in all by himself.
It is difficult to imagine how the album will sound to anyone who has not experienced a Windborn show live, but from the perspective of someone who was able to play it within hours of seeing the songs performed a few feet in front of me, I can say without a doubt that the album allows me to experience his live show again and again in my own home. For a fan, there is no better gift than that.
Album highlights: Of Calm: a truly beautiful exposition of the heart that gives me chills each time I hear it; Heaven: this simple, yet profound lyrical commentary on the existence of the afterlife draws you in and holds you close; Swim For the Lighthouse: a track that lives up to its song title and takes you on an undeniable journey of reflection, joy, hope and forging ahead, which in many ways sums up much of what Windborn represents. Honourable mention goes to track 5, the hidden creatively titled Third Intermission, (which continues his trend to include an instrumental track for the third album in a row), it is the perfect jam to get lost in, a foolproof measure I lean on more often than not.
Windborn performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on November 28, 2014.
Aside from a few private shows in December, Windborn will be back touring in January before his month long hiatus to enter the world of fatherhood. We wish him and his beautiful love all the happiness in the world as they begin this new chapter in life, and we look forward to the music that will surely be inspired by what lies ahead.
Stay up to date on his touring schedule, stream the new music, and read his latest blog posts at http://www.windborn.ca
Photos courtesy of Steve Mechem.