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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Toronto folk-rocker launches new album

Tags: Arts Alng the Endless Highway Evan Malach Malcolm Burn The CJN Toronto
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Evan Malach’s artistic alias is Stone/Angel. It’s a literal translation of his name into the Hebrew description of the words.

It’s also a pretty neat band name.

Next week, Malach, as Stone/Angel, releases his sophomore album, Along the Endless Highway, and it’s a bit of a departure from his first offering, 2008’s Revolution Rising, the latter being a rawer, less effects-heavy creation that was sold to raise funds for the people of Darfur, Tibet and Burma, all causes dear to him.

For the new album, Malach engaged industry heavyweight Malcolm Burn to produce what can best be described as a concept album. It’s a very layered, textured affair that took the artist out of his rootsy comfort zone and repurposed his material into a sonic landscape more in line with the likes of Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, while still maintaining a Bruce Springsteen-esque esthetic and spirit.

In fact, Malach covers Springsteen on this album with an alternative take on the Boss’s Brilliant Disguise.

Malach recorded the album during the final days of his father Howard’s life and planned the album launch for May 14, the one-year anniversary of his dad’s death.

The event will take place at Toronto’s Supermarket, at 268 Augusta Ave. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

Malach said there’s no entry fee, rather a “pay what you can” suggestion for patrons.

True to his style, the album is an acoustic guitar-heavy affair, showcasing Malach’s preferred instrument, with Burn working magic at the sound and mixing boards elevating the tunes to heights the artist hadn’t imagined possible.

“We spent 19 days recording at Burn’s New York studio,” Malach said. “It was a journey… and the way Malcolm used his equipment, with the right machinery attached to you, you can really change your sound. I felt the atmosphere. Burn has a real understanding of sound space.”

Malach, 27, said the experience of losing his dad, whom he called his best friend, was a difficult experience, but the creation of the album – which also corresponds with an autobiography, Now Boarding, that he’s releasing the same day as the album – helped him spiritually.

“My dad was instrumental in helping me pursue my dreams,” he said. “I’m looking to honour my parents with my career.”

Malach said the book and album represent reflections on his spiritual journey, particularly in the wake of dealing with the death of a parent and his own near-death experience on the ski slopes of British Columbia in 2010.

Now Boarding tells true stories from my life and shares spiritual lessons I have learned,” he said in a release. “The book begins with the tale of my own brush with death while snowboarding in B.C.’s back country. It goes on to chronicle travels in Israel and Europe, and culminates with reflections on life and death, written while dealing with my father's passing.”

The CJN was unable to review the book prior to its release. However, for fans of roots-alternative-indie music, Malach and Burn have crafted an eminently listenable album that will require, happily, repeated plays to fully appreciate its depth of production and craftsmanship.

Notable tracks include Along the Beach, a pop-filled tune recalling the best of the bubble gum tracks from the 1980s; Breaking All the Rules, a dreamy ballad with a nice hook, and Here Before (This Old Canoe), a nostalgia-laden closing track that conjures images of early work by Tom Cochrane and Red Rider and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

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