Jay Malinowski and the Deadcoast pay homage to sailing and family ties with new concept album, Martel (Pirate’s Blend/Sony Music Canada).
If you don’t recognize the name Jay Malinowski, you probably would still be familiar with his distinct voice as lead vocalist for Bedouin Soundclash. His new project, Jay Malinowski and the Deadcoast, is garnering attention across Canada for its dense piano melodies and jazz-inspired vibe that seems to drift the listener along on an introspective musical voyage of their own.
The heavily-involved concept album, influenced by letters written by his sailor grandfather, was released in conjunction with the website, whoismartel.com, where you can discover videos and sound clips from the set. As an additional part of the concept, the 18 songs are divided into nine songs representing the Pacific Coast sound and nine songs representing the Atlantic Coast sound. These songs are then associated to nautical points which are mapped out on the website where a visitor can see the location to which the each track corresponds.
Martel features dramatic shifts in musical eras and styles, from ragtime to Celtic folk to pop. There is a significant transition as the listener makes the passage from the softer ballads of the Pacific Coast to the more string-intense hard beats on the Atlantic. They come together in the last song, “Low, Low, Low,” where he softly harmonizes the growing pains of life and moving on.
Charles Martel, a Huguenot who escaped religious persecution in France to build a successful life in Cape Breton, served as the inspiration for the album that dropped Feb. 11. “I grew up with his stories; it’s a trajectory of life,” says Malinowski. “In how he had to survive I feel anyone can relate to in any part of life. It’s adaptation.”
On whether or not an artist is most successful if they come from a place that is genuine, “I think it depends on the artist, but for me it is what you are supposed to do,” says the songwriter. “To bring out a truth that people can relate to. All you can do is step back from the pressures and do your best.”
This passion project has been a long time coming. “I would have to say every project has led into the next,” explains Malinowski. “It is all hindsight really. I’m happy with everything I have done to this point. It has all been challenging and part of the journey.”
This collection also features appearances from Hot Water Music vocalist, Chuck Ragan, Jenn Tse and Zachary Richard.
Martel’s first video, a black and white motif for “The Tall Shadow from Saint-Malo,” can be found on YouTube as well as a lyric video for the first single, “Patience Phipps (The Best to You).”
The letters themselves are set to be published in a book called Skulls & Bones: Letters from a Sailor to His Long-Lost Granddaughter (HarperCollins) with early chapters being released online March 18 on Malinowski’s blog at skullsandbones.wordpress.com.
Catch Jay Malinowski and the Deadcoast at Festival Hall (Calgary) on March 25, at ARTery (Edmonton) on March 26 and at Park Theatre (Winnipeg) on March 28.
By Nicole Robin
Photo: Victor Penner