My City of Starlings is the new album by multi-instrumentalist composer Charles Spearin known for his work in Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think, and countless more. The album is an incredibly dynamic and eclectic blend of instrumental-leaning excursions that were born from a song-a-day recording club of friends and peers from around the world. Beautifully textured, gliding between avant garde, art rock, and electronic with cohesion and ease, My City of Starlings foregrounds the masterful touch that Spearin always imbues in his bands’ legendary songs and performances.
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‘Is this how we feel when we’re alone / With our faces glowing from our phones / We can’t help but want to leave our homes’
Can you think of a more perfect lyric that captures the pandemic experience? Multi-instrumentalist and composer Charles Spearin, known for his work in Broken Social Scene, Do May Say Think, and so much more music that has soundtracked the past two decades, insists he’s not much of a lyricist. In fact, his new solo album, My City of Starlings, is a largely instrumental collection of beautifully textured songs that glide between avant-garde, art rock and electronic soundscapes.
But it’s no surprise that Spearin’s virtuosity extends to every detail of his songwriting, from the burnished brass of “Vireos In Bellwoods” to the celestial “Three Voices (Braided Carefully)” to the words and ambient melodies of the title track, which captures both the haziness but also the glimmers of hope of the time we’ve just lived through.
My City of Starlings isn’t a “pandemic record,” exactly, while Spearin found himself with extra time once touring came to a standstill, some of the compositions that found their way onto the album had been taking shape since 2017, while others were born from a more recent song-a-day writing and recording club of fellow musicians from around the world.
“I have my studio here in my backyard, and I sometimes struggle with why I’m doing this – what’s the purpose? Am I making an album? Are they songs I’m going to pitch to my friends to be Broken Social Scene songs, or Feist songs or whatever? But then I settled into the idea that this is what I do,” Spearin says.
“To have time on my hands and a studio at my fingertips certainly helped in making this record, but thematically, there’s a kind of reflection in the music that maybe comes from having spent so much time at home as well.”
Like so many of us, Spearin came to see his city in a whole new light during the endless walks taken through its streets over the past year and a half, partly thanks to an increased interest in birding but also a whole new appreciation for the wonders of the natural world – an inspiration that comes through clearly in the album’s expansive sonic palette.
- Sympathy & Vegetation
- Portrait of the Artist as a Thursday
- Rutting Season
- Vireos in Bellwoods
- Three Voices (Braided Carefully) ft. Robin Dann
- When Tigers Used to Smoke
- My Heart is an Appaloosa in Canter
- My City of Starlings
- Sometimes it Hurts to be Alive
- The Morning Dew Lay Heavy on the Grass
- The Wedding