TORONTO, ON., Oct. 19, 2020 — On Friday, October 16, Away Is Mine Gord Downie’s final solo recording co-written by Gord’s “oldest Toronto friend,” Josh Finlayson features 10 songs (x 2) recorded just a few months before the Canadian music icon passed away.
“This won’t be his last release, but these are the final ten songs Gord sang before he passed away. The last time he ever sang into a mic,” Finlayson and Gord’s younger brother, Patrick Downie wrote in a joint statement. “That’s pretty special to us.”
The two friends recorded Away Is Mine in July 2017 at The Tragically Hip’s studio in Bath, Ontario, and the double album features both 10 acoustic and 10 electric takes versions of what their label, Arts & Crafts refers to as “A characteristically questing and idiosyncratic work that holds fast to its author’s unwavering artistic spirit.”
The 20-track collection is described as Gord’s poetic mastery at its most bare and personal, with shimmering production that casts each song in different ethereal light.
“There really wasn’t a plan to make a record,’ says Finlayson. “The whole thing was that I knew this was a great way to spend time with Gord, listening to music, talking about music, talking about things that we’d always talked about. And this just evolved pretty organically.”
The duo set out to write an entire record in the open-C tuning. “I would record these ideas on my phone and he’d put them in his GarageBand and put the words and melodies over top,” Finlayson told Apple Music.
Recording sessions began on July 17, 2017 with producer/mixer and the Hip’s Bathouse in-house engineer Nyles Spencer at the helm. The album came together quickly as the two friends combined a burst of creativity via live takes over the next four days.
Another good friend of Gord’s and decades-long collaborator on various solo projects, Travis Good of The Sadies joined the duo to perform fiddle, mandolin, and guitars, while longtime Bathouse overseer Dave “Billy Ray” Koster and Lou Downie, Gord’s son, contributed live drum parts further spliced by Spencer into the mix. Through judicious use of drum loops, synths, vocal effects and “general madness,” as Finlayson puts it, Spencer transformed Away Is Mine into the supernatural end product at hand.
“They are the same record,” avows Spencer, referring to the loosely labeled ‘electric’ and ‘acoustic’ discs. “Just different mixes.” Finlayson asked for the stripped-back versions after the fact “purely for selfish reasons,” as personal mementos, but their standalone value has since grown clear to all who have heard them. They could be mistaken for two entirely different recordings, and yet they are actually the same – the same lightning, just in different bottles.
“Whereas Introduce Yerself – Gord’s 23 songs of personal love letters to family, friends, and the Bruins – was his farewell album, arriving just ten days after his passing, the posthumous Away Is Mine is Gord’s existential reckoning with life. Away Is Mine is a document of an artist disappearing into his art, essentially becoming his art through that process. Here, laid bare, is the process,” reads the statement by Arts & Crafts.
“We feel so blessed for this opportunity. Simply described as gratitude. Grateful for another gift from Gord. A gift that has been our beautiful companion and an unintended source of solace in the face of life without him,” Josh and Patrick share. “May it lift you up and carry you onwards and upwards always and forever.
Everyone involved in the making of Away Is Mine refers to it as “a gift,” the magic of which has carried through the completion of the album over this summer 2020, including the original artwork created by Clare Downie and Willo Downie, Gord’s daughters.
Away Is Mine is immortal. And yet it took a fearless reckoning with his own mortality to get us here.
Away Is Mine. Away Is Yers.”
Away Is Mine will be released October 16, 2020 in 2LP, 2CD, and digital formats via Arts & Crafts.
Gord Downie Away is Mine Track list: 1. Hotel Worth 2. Useless Nights 3. I Am Lost 4. About Blank 5. River Don’t Care 6. The Least Impossible 7. Traffic Is Magic 8. Away Is Mine 9. No Solace 10. Untitled 11. Hotel Worth (Acoustic) 12. Useless Nights (Acoustic) 13. I Am Lost (Acoustic) 14. About Blank (Acoustic) 15. River Don’t Care (Acoustic) 16. The Least Impossible (Acoustic) 17. Traffic Is Magic (Acoustic) 18. Away Is Mine (Acoustic) 19. No Solace (Acoustic) 20. Untitled (Acoustic)