Since stepping out from the sideman shadows in 2009 with Pink Strat, his first release under the Bahamas moniker, guitarist/singer Afie Jurvanen has been defining his musical alter-ego as being simply undefinable. While clearly rooted in stripped-down light and airy grooves, Jurvanen sets himself apart from his contemporaries with his considerable ability to get a wealth of emotion, tone and effect out of his guitar with virtuosity only, while coloring songs that are introspective, observant and at times self-effacing. The result, as heard on his latest album, Sad Hunk, is music that is personally revealing while maintaining an accessibility allowing each listener to hear it however they want.
“I think I’m always trying to get closer and closer to the source, like the way old Blues albums were made,” says Jurvanen. “There’s no production; all the emotion you’re hearing is just the players, the room, the song. I want you to hear every word I’m saying, and take the song and make it your own.”
On Sad Hunk, Jurvanen is joined by longtime collaborators Christine Bougie (guitar), Don Kerr (drums), Mike O’Brien (bass) and Felicity Williams (vocals), as well as a YouTube discovery, Sam Weber, adding mellifluous guitar. “I asked him to come out and record with us with out even knowing what I wanted him to play, which is generally how I like to work with people: I always think it’s so much more interesting when you let them find their way into the songs on their own.”
The songs they were all finding their ways into on Sad Hunk cover a lot of territory, both musically and lyrically. Starting with the shuffling search for contentment, “Trick To Happy,” the record moves through a range of emotions including taking oneself too seriously (the Jazz-inflected “Own Alone”), anxiety (“Less Than Love”), love (“Half Your Love,” written for Jurvanen’s wife) and forgiveness on the album-closing rave-up, “Wisdom Of The World,” all addressing topics we often think about but seldom discuss, but those discussions often present new ways of looking at things.