Ontario’s Drew Thomson is back with a new EP, Stay, out today on Dine Alone Records. Perhaps better known as the frontman of the raucous punk band Single Mothers, Drew has released a handful of EP’s under his own name with a decidedly calmer sound. This marks his first one under the new moniker “The Drew Thomson Foundation”, which is an appropriate change since this EP deals with new beginnings and brings out a new sound. Now, first and foremost I am a massive fan of this guy’s work, and anyone who has ever been trapped in a car with me can attest to that. Thus, any attempt at a “review” of this would be beyond biased, so a “rant” is more fitting. Moral of the story, check this EP out.
Stay trades out the acoustic-based or clean electric melancholy of his earlier work for a full-on distorted power chord sound, complete with a full backing band. Drew solidifies himself as a graduate of the University of Craig Finn, with incredible lyrical wit and detail, shout-along choruses, and an undeniable rock n roll energy. His vocal ability and songwriting skills just continue to get better, and the result is his most accessible material to date paired with his continued distinct charisma. Lyrics have always been a strong suit of his, and the guy who once wrote Negative Qualities seems to have found a far more sunny disposition, which is reflected in this new EP.
The intro wastes no time with “Married To The Night”, which immediately opens with Drew’s vocals and a loud, overdriven guitar before the entire band kicks in. The punk influence is immediately more evident than on any of his previous releases. Vocally, he dabbles in the sing-speak style more commonly used with Single Mothers. This is the perfect delivery for the wordplay and lyrical density he is renowned for. He fits a lot of detail into this 2-minute track, which says just enough to capture a moment without indulging in it.
“Pace Yourself” is an alt-country ballad in the vein of Lucero, which sees Drew trading in his “whiskey spell” for “diet coke and lime”. The acoustic guitar on this track suggests that it may have started much more stripped down. With the addition of the full band instrumentation, this song sounds a lot less lonely than it may have originally, which is perfectly fitting for the song’s subject matter. This track pulls together a huge, communal chorus with some incredible lyrics that hit a little too close to home. Its a reflection on a previous self juxtaposed with the current self, and the changes that have arisen in that time, and the sense of hope that brings. Drew throws in some incredible personal details on both lives with that chorus hammering home the simple yet poignant life lesson: pace yourself. This is the second track released from the EP, and a definite highlight.
Track 3, “Rifle” is a bit of a detour on this EP, with its run-time being over twice any other song on here at 5:21. Its foundation is a riff played on what sounds like a cross between a bass and a synth, over steady toms, with some guitar flashes decorating the spaces. It burns a little slower than the rest, but brims with lyrical potency, allowing Drew to tell this story with vivid detail and feeling. It contains fantastic lines such as “All this goddamn town has is a funeral home, a liquor store and a church. Not sure which one I’ll end up in first”. The wordy chorus hits its peak the third time around post-bridge, where the guitar work begins swelling, and the snare and cymbals hit. The slow build and progression hits an incredible climax here before devolving into the bass/synth riff to close.
The closing track, which also happens to be the title track and first single released is “Stay”. It’s an incredible concept to hit on, and one universally (albeit painfully) understood by so many. This track borders on a pop song, with an upbeat chord progression, standard song structure, and catchy refrain (the kind of earworm that gets stuck in your head). The lyrics on this track are pretty immediate, with the narrator dealing with the loss of someone who left before their time of self-improvement. It’s got this incredible duality to it, where it fits into both camps of happiness and sadness (for lack of better words), which I think perfectly encapsulates the human condition (as pretentious as that sounds). Regardless, this is an incredible song with a replay value that does not wear out easily, and a highlight in Drew’s already-amazing catalogue. You can check out the video for “Stay” below.
I’m not sure if my recommendation has much merit, but I do truly suggest giving all of Drew’s music a listen, especially Stay (and Single Mothers if you haven’t heard them, holy shit get on that). This is a fantastic project from one of my favourite songwriters kicking around today, and one I will be (and have been) listening to tirelessly. The music, lyrics, and hooks are all simply astounding, which I know is a vague description, but also abundantly true. I wholeheartedly encourage you to check this out. You can buy or stream it over at Dine Alone at the link below. Enjoy!