Grant Davidson, now known to Winnipeg folk music fans as Slow Leaves, stopped playing music only as a hobby while working at his newest album Beauty Is So Common.
“Part of making the record I always wanted to make came from the fact that I just really wanted to take music more seriously,” says 34-year-old Davidson. “Previously I made music while working a day job, but this time the big difference was I quit my job and just decided to take that risk. It really forced me to put much more of my focus on making music and actually trying to build a career out of it.”
The production of Beauty Is So Common is another major way it varies from Davidson’s previous three full-lengths, the most recent of which is 2011’s Dust and Violets.
“The previous records were done more on a shoestring budget as far as the production goes,” he says. “There wasn’t a lot of time to record, and while I like those records I feel like there were some compromises made. This time it was really important for me to record in a proper studio with a professional engineer and a producer, which I hadn’t done in the past. I also wanted to have more of a shiny production, the other records were pretty stripped down, I wouldn’t say lo-fi, but pretty slim and sparse production-wise.”
The producer he chose was current Sheepdogs/ex-Waking Eyes/Imaginary Cities member Rusty Matyas.
“I was interested in doing something a little bit different and bringing in someone else’s perspective to get different ideas on it,” Davidson says. “At the time I was listening to the first Imaginary Cities record and really liked the production quality so I thought, ‘What the hell?’ and shot him an email asking to be part of it even though I had never really actually met him before.”
Davidson says the pair started by making demos in a jam space and spent two weeks recording at Winnipeg’s Argyle Studio with engineer Cam Loeppky.
“I’ve always been evolving towards this direction, you just sort of get there when you’re there,” Davidson says. “In the past I was fine with them sounding like people in a room while this time I wanted a different sound.”
Davidson says the title Beauty Is So Common comes from a book written by Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges, one of his favourite authors.
“I think that line is in a preface to one of his stories and it just stuck out to me as a humbling reminder,” he says. “There’s beauty everywhere and at best you can just try to make something honest yourself. There’s definitely a few songs on the record where ideas came from books as well, whether it’s a line or an idea or a situation. Books have always been a source of inspiration for me when writing.”