On October 16th, Arts & Crafts will release a new album by Gord Downie, one day before the third anniversary of his passing. Recorded at The Tragically Hip‘s studio in Bath, Ontario in July 2017, Away Is Mine is Gord Downie’s final solo recording: a characteristically questing and idiosyncratic work steered to life by “my oldest Toronto friend,” guitarist and co-writer Josh Finlayson.
The last ten songs Gord wrote hold fast to his unwavering artistic spirit, deft hand with words and forever inscrutable sense of humour even as he locks eyes head-on with the Great Inevitability.
Away Is Mine is a contemplation on Gord’s life, both autobiographical and collaborative in nature – a document of an artist disappearing into his art, essentially becoming his art through that process.
Presented as a double album with electric and acoustic versions, the 20-track collection highlights Gord’s poetic mastery with vibrant yet haunting production by Nyles Spencer that casts each of the ten songs in a different light. Downie and Finlayson recorded in a burst of multiple live takes over three days with Travis Good of The Sadies on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, and drum parts shared by Dave “Billy Ray” Koster and Lou Downie (Gord’s son), with Spencer transforming it all, often in real time, through judicious application of drum loops, atmospheric synths, vocal effects and “general madness,” as Finlayson puts it, into the otherworldly end product at hand.
Everyone involved in the making of Away Is Mine refers to it as “a gift,” and rightly so – like all of the music and poetry and the memories and the genius that Gord gifted us during his 53 years on our planet, it is immortal.
And yet it took a fearless reckoning with his own mortality to get us here.
“Night is good, think of it like that” – Gord Downie “Untitled”