Since hauling up anchor and rolling into Hogtown back in 2010, you could say that Bryce Jardine has been on a whirlwind trajectory through Toronto's music scene.
Known to London, Ontario audiences as the lead singer and songwriter for bands like The Synaesthetic and Dog Tooth Violet, both prominent London acts, Jardine has always had a literary flair for the pen. His music weaves effortlessly between lyrics that belie his young years; with influences like Steve Earle, Neil Young, and Tom Waits, the lost-highway timelessness of his sound could be that of a musician twice his age.
But it's very distinctly, very uniquely Bryce Jardine. With recognition as a solidly tour-de-force songwriter under his belt—the whole reason he came to Toronto to begin with—Jardine established himself as a frontman yet again, this time as the lead singer and songwriter for Bryce Jardine and the Parlour Birds. After the release of his first solo album, 2012's The Kids Are Gone, Jardine teamed up with a few other reputable, respectable stars in Toronto's sonic firmament: Nathan Gray of Townes and Cities; Brad Kilpatrick of Holy Fuck and Kathleen Edwards; Michelle Willis of Three Metre Day and Iggy Pop; and Bean Friend, who had previously played with Kenny Rogers.
As the Parlour Birds, Jardine and this who's-who of music done right recorded two tracks, both of them at Hawksley Workman's studio. "Be Still" and "Lean Years," released in October 2013, have that heartbreaking, longing sound of a musician with a story to tell. As Workman himself said of Jardine, he's "a compelling singer-songwriter with an engaging voice that invites you in with its subtleness and cool, dark delivery of highly crafted lyrics."
"I've heard some early results of his recent writings and recordings," Workman added, "and I haven't been able to stop listening to it."
If nothing else, Jardine is part of a strong, almost poetic Toronto tradition of lost-highway lyrical sensibility, a melancholic intensity embodied by local acts like Blue Rodeo and The Wooden Sky. It's the sound of Queen West at three AM on a Saturday, its laneways reverberating with the sound of a thousand urban seekers. This Friday, Bryce Jardine and the Parlour Birds bring that sound to the Underground at the Drake Hotel, hitting the stage at 8 pm. And it's all free, so give yourself the gift of great music and come experience this poet of city nights yourself.