2019 album. Canadian alt-country. Also available on CD.
Canadian singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge is releasing his new album ‘Passages’ and he has been a busy man during the writing of his latest title .The Juno Award winning artist, NOW Magazine Toronto Songwriter of the Year, CMFA Album of The Year winner and multi Polaris nominee recorded ‘Passages’ in-between getting married to HGTV Canada star Sarah Keenleyside and his acclaimed performance in the Montreal run of the Tony Award winning musical, “Once”.
Justin Rutledge is a special kind of songwriter. He counts country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons among his key influences and hangs out with Tragically Hip guitarist Rob Baker. Yet he also feels comfortable in conversation with some of the great names of Canadian literature. Booker Prize winner Michael Ondaatje is a friend and collaborator. On ‘Passages’ Justin teams up with Baker who he became friends with five years ago whilst recording ‘Daredevil’ an album of Tragically Hip covers. At first, Rutledge reached out to members of the Hip to make sure they approved of the project.
"Rob wrote back a very cool email stating that he had all my records," Rutledge says. "It turns out he was a fan. We forged a little relationship, just hanging out. We weren't playing music at the time. I was in Prince Edward County and he was in Kingston, so I would go out to his place for dinner. We'd meet up. We became good friends."
When it came time to record 'Passages,' Rutledge asked Baker if he'd like to add some guitar on one or two tracks. "He ended up coming to the studio in Toronto and bringing all his gear," Rutledge says. "And, yeah, he played on the whole record. It's so flattering to have him on the album and to hear that sound on it. I grew up with the Hip and I'm such a big fan of every element of that band."
One of the songs on the album — "Boats" — is a collaboration with Canadian literary giant Ondaatje. "I needed some help with the lyrics so I went over to Michael's place one day and he helped me out with it," explains Rutledge, who majored in literature while attending the University of Toronto. "It was quite a quick and educational experience to watch him work ... "I still get star struck, much more so around novelists than I do musicians," he adds.
In many ways, however, Rutledge approaches songwriting like a novelist and has been hailed as as strong as Neil Young in his prime along with the Toronto star proclaiming Rutledge can spin a yarn just as well as Bruce Springsteen.