James Gordon finds productivity in the pandemic with his 40th (yes, 40th) album When I Stayed Home — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
Created during pandemic lockdown, the 13-song long-player is just one of several new project the prolific singer-songwriter completed during his enforced downtime. From his tiny home studio, he finished his ‘musical novel’ The Ark of the Oven Mitt, accompanied by a 36-song recording. He created a virtual tour of his one-man show James Gordon’s Emergency Climate Musical. He successfully navigated his side hustle as a Guelph city councillor. And of course, he wrote and recorded When I Stayed Home.
“I can’t seem to stop writing songs,” Gordon shares. “Mostly, they write themselves — I just hold up a net and catch them as they flutter past.” Some of those 1,500-plus songs Gordon modestly claims to have merely ‘fluttered past’ have also landed on stage and in studio with the likes of Cowboy Junkies, James Keelaghan, Melanie Doane, Laura Smith, Miranda Mulholland and various international choirs.
The songs Gordon wrote for When I Stayed Home cover an array of compelling and current topics — including climate change, the income gap, racism, empathy, social justice, our natural environment, and love in a challenging time. The first single, We’ll Bring You Home, packs a punch that hits closest to the heart for all of Canada right now; in response to the horrific discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves belonging to unknown Indigenous children at residential schools in Western Canada, Gordon wrote and recorded the late addition to the album just prior to final preparations for its release.
Over his enduring 40-year career, Gordon has released music both as a longtime, successful solo artist, and as a founding member of the groundbreaking Canadian folk group Tamarack. But When I Stayed Home marks the first time Gordon has been created an album almost exclusively solo. Unable to bring any of his stable of top Canadian talent into the studio, Gordon took on the formidable task of playing all the instruments himself on the album’s baker’s dozen of tracks — including acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, piano, bass, accordion, harmonica, tin whistle, ukulele and percussion. Just two brief exceptions were made to Gordon’s “all by myself” rule, with stellar cameos from vocalist Tannis Slimmon and clarinetist John David Williams.
After a year and a half of being off the road and pivoting to a live streaming show world, Gordon is looking forward to leaving home again and lighting up stages with his warm, reflective and topical songs of When I Stayed Home, and more. “These songs demanded to be written,” he says. “I’m excited about sharing them with the opening-up world.”