Ron Kalmakoff Inhabits Jim Cuddy’s You Be The Leaver

The B.C. singer-songwriter finds the universal message at the heart of a Cuddy cut.

Ron Kalmakoff makes himself at home in the bittersweet beauty of Jim Cuddy’s You Be The Leaver for his latest single and video — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

A beloved work by one of five celebrated Canadian songwriters Kalmakoff covers on his newest album Nature, You Be The Leaver is a story of lovers drifting apart — but to the B.C. singer-songwriter, it also has a much wider and more timely application. “This song definitely encompasses thoughts of heartbreak, but there are also lyrics in the song that speak to me about loss on other levels,” he explains. “Loss that many people have been going through over the last couple of years.

“Jim’s song was one of the first I contemplated for my new album, but one of the final ones I recorded in the studio,” Kalmakoff coninues. “I loved the song right away when I heard it, but really had to think it through on how I could bring my own style to the piece, make it my own. I really hope that when Mr. Cuddy hears my version of the song he wrote, he will be pleased. His voice and songwriting are such a gift to Canada.”

The song’s portrayal of self-reflection and loss figures prominently in the video for You Be The Leaver. Taking advantage of the lush surroundings near Kalmakoff’s home on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, director Alexander Sharp wanted to emphasize the feelings of loss conveyed through the lyrics but visually mirror the feelings the song fosters as well.

“I loved the idea of watching Ron in this one as a reflection because when your heart is broken, it can feel, mentally speaking, there is nowhere to go except back to the past: a reflection of your former self,” notes Sharp. “Something about using mirror panes in the forest felt like a beautiful nightmare.”

From his first performance at age 16 at a talent show in his hometown of Canora, Sask., to appearing on the Tommy Hunter Show and right up to the present, music has always been a vital thread through Kalmakoff’s life. This directly reflects in Nature — a release Kalmakoff says is “part of the tapestry connected to my life. From my childhood in Saskatchewan to now living on the West Coast of Canada. The people I have known along the way. The artists who have inspired me and the beauty of Canada, woven here through the songs and the music.”

To produce Nature, Kalmakoff paired with Vancouver producer and musician Michael Creber (Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, k.d.lang). The two also co-produced Kalmakoff’s 2019 album Come To Me, whose songs have enjoyed airplay around the world. In addition to the seven original tracks on Nature, he offers songs by Leonard Cohen, Loreena McKennitt, Jimmy Rankin, Michelle Creber and Cuddy.

Watch You Be The Leaver above, hear more from Ron Kalmakoff below, and find him at his website, Facebook and Instagram.