Branching out alone can be a jarring experience. There is a learning curve to flying solo for even the most experienced musicians who leave behind the relative safety of being part of a band.

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This article was published 9/3/2017 (1940 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Branching out alone can be a jarring experience. There is a learning curve to flying solo for even the most experienced musicians who leave behind the relative safety of being part of a band.

Winnipeg-bred, Toronto-based singer-songwriter Joey Landreth now knows this first-hand; he released his debut solo effort, Whiskey, in January after spending the majority of his career in a band (most recently with the Juno Award-winning roots act the Bros. Landreth) and found the transition, especially in a touring environment, a little isolating.

"There is this weird… that feeling you get after a breakup, entering back into the world as a unit all on your own, and it kind of feels like that a bit. Like, ‘What do you guys want to eat? Oh, there’s nobody here.’

"It’s a little like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh… I used to tour with four of my best friends and now I’m driving this tiny rental car across the Prairies," he laughs.

Mike Latschislaw photo</p></p>

Mike Latschislaw photo

"The solitude is shocking but it’s also been really nice and really cathartic to spend a lot of time alone, which I think your average person in their daily life doesn’t get to do. Certainly as a touring musician, there’s not a lot of solitude, so it’s an interesting perspective to tour from, especially after touring with a band... It’s lonely, but it’s really lovely all at the same time."

The Bros. Landreth spent the better part of four years on the road touring their debut release, Let It Lie, and then jointly decided it was time to take a small break so each member could pursue other things. Landreth had already written some songs he wasn’t sure what to do with, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to hop into the studio, flesh them out and record them on his own.

Landreth reiterates the band is just on a break, and the intent has always been to get the Bros. back together and make another record.

In the meantime, he says his bandmates have been incredibly supportive of his solo work — bassist (and brother), Dave Landreth, and drummer Ryan Voth even played on the album.

"It’s very much still under the Bros. Landreth umbrella... Some of the songs are a bit of a departure from what we were doing, some of them are not. It’s very much an extension on the sound we started to make with the band," says Landreth.

"It’s cool to do the record with Dave and Ryan because that was the rhythm section for pretty much four years, with the exception of the last year when we had a different drummer, but it was Dave and Ryan and me on Let It Lie and it was Dave and Ryan and me on Whiskey, which is really kind of cool and special."

It’s true Whiskey doesn’t fall too far from where the Bros. Landreth left off — the seven-song record is rootsy and bluesy, washed with waves of pure country and rock— but the major difference can be heard in the guitar work. Landreth was a guitarist long before he was a singer, and this project allowed him the wiggle room to "play a little bit louder" and play a little bit more than he previously had the space to do.

"It’s still pretty song-centred but it was a definitive choice... I wanted to make an effort to play more guitar, and so that’s what we did," he says.

Landreth returned to his home city to record Whiskey, foregoing the allure of bigger music cities such as Toronto (where he now lives) and Nashville in favour of working with a team he knows and trusts to execute his vision for this new sub-section of his musical career.

"I’m really, really passionately a Winnipegger and this is kind of the centre of it all for me. I love Toronto, I also really love a lot of other places, and when the opportunity came up to make this record there was talk about maybe going to Nashville and doing it, but at the end of the day there are amazing musicians in Winnipeg. Why would I do it anywhere else with strangers when I could go home and do it with people that I really, really love?" he says.

"There will be times in my life, I hope, where it’ll be time to step out of the comfort zone and go somewhere foreign and make a record with strangers, but now is not that time. This is all about… it’s very important that this record sounds the way that it does, and I’m really excited about it."

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @NireRabel

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Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Manager of audience engagement for news

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.