Where the following of one’s heart can occasionally feel foolish before the bumper-car headlights of pragmatists asleep at the wheel, the results of allowing passion to strengthen and form as gifts comes through clearly in Foolish Heart Songs, the long-awaited debut album by Tyler MacGregor.
As a collection of new and re-mastered songs from previous release on SoundCloud, the album adds an electric edge to MacGregor’s trademark acoustic style, and while electric guitar may not become an addition to his live performances, its addition to the album felt natural for the Toronto singer-songwriter. “I’m mostly an acoustic guy,” says MacGregor, “and wanted the whole record to have an unplugged feel. As time went on, I started fooling around with the electric guitar and realized that, for leads, solos and atmosphere, it really lent itself well to the songs,” as did amending elements and removing others.
In a re-worked version of “Til the Day I Die,” MacGregor added electric swells throughout the song and removed the brush drums from the bridge. He also brought up the lead vocals, “because in the original mix, you couldn’t really decipher the lyrics.” For “Grouchy,” MacGregor infused the formerly all-acoustic song with a dynamic interplay of electric leads and rhythms, augmented by amplified background vocals in the chorus. In “Don’t Ever Wake Me,” he employed (and admittedly fell in love with) an “echo-drenched wah-wah” guitar effect that made its way into many album tracks, and for “Asleep at the Wheel,” he added more background vocals in addition to amending a few lyrics that had been bothering him.
The results is an album that comes across as a collection of brand new work—even for fans who’ve listened to the few previously released SoundCloud tracks. Yet more than that, the album stands as encouragement to anyone who feels the pull and passion of their own “foolish” heart songs but feels they don’t have the resources to make them happen. Says MacGeregor, “Some of the record was paid for using the old barter system.” In MacGregor’s case, he intrepidly exchanged studio time for helping the studio owner paint his living room and renovate his kitchen, to which MacGregor happily says, “Great system when you have no money left for recording. I got about four songs out of it.”
'Foolish Heart Songs' will be available for digital download on Bandcamp on November 26th. If you’re in Toronto that night, head over to the Paddock Tavern at 9 p.m. for the CD release party. Joining MacGregor on stage: Alexander Quail and Sarah Hiltz.
To really stay in the loop, visit Tyler MacGregor on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Tyler-MacGregor-1030916063625969/