Blaeser surveys the many roads not taken on his thought-provoking acoustic-rock single and video Potential Paths — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
Even though the choices we make and the paths we walk are unique to each of us, we all share the fact that change is unavoidable and can happen when we least expect it. For Saskatoon singer-songwriter Blaeser — aka Taylor (T.J.) Lang — the global pandemic that changed everything for all of us two years ago is also what launched the creation of Potential Paths.
“On March 10, 2020, I was prepping to play a half-time St Paddy’s Saddledome show with my former band, Celtic rock group Crack The Lens, to 13,000 people, and had just put down a deposit on a Toronto apartment,” Blaeser remembers. “Two days later, all of that was gone as the world closed down. It really got me thinking of how quickly things change, all the paths we never get to walk, all the people we never meet — or leave behind, for that matter — as circumstances change our paths through life.
“Potential Paths directly references big events in my life where everything suddenly changed course,” notes Blaeser. “All those younger, more innocent versions of me had to disappear along the way to who I am now, just as my current self will disappear to continue that journey.”
Being open-minded and open-hearted to those course corrections is one of the takeaways from this thoughtful, melodically memorable song, which is also the lead single from Blaeser’s forthcoming second album An Audio Guide to Introspection — recorded, mixed, and mastered by Casey Lewis at Calgary’s Echo Base Studio last October through December, and set for release this summer.
“The title came from a Twitter conversation with Dan Mangan where I said that his More Or Less album was like ‘an audio guide to introspection’,” recalls Blaeser. Mangan is a big influence on Blaeser’s songwriting, in addition to other erudite and reflective Canadian songwriters like Dallas Green and Gord Downie.
“My music, currently, is equal parts Tragically Hip, fingerstyle guitar virtuoso Jon Gomm, and City & Colour,” he says. “If all I’ve got is one guitar, I want to get as much out of it as I can in terms of fingerstyle techniques, and if all I have is one voice, I want to make every word meaningful and memorable.”
Blaeser comes by his devotion to artistic innovation and improvement honestly after a lifetime immersed in music. Born in Saskatchewan and raised near Calgary, the multi-instrumentalist had worked his way through learning piano, drums, saxophone, keyboards, bass guitar, and then electric guitar by the end of school. “By the time I graduated, I had bought a crappy old electric and was jamming power chords in my first band with some high school friends,” he reminisces. “Our first show was in a small-town coffee shop, which we filled but where we absolutely did not fit the vibe. Video exists of this event, unfortunately.”
A one-year move to Vancouver in his mid-20s included his first busking experiences. “My first busking sessions in Vancouver were notorious failures, with my very first donation being a fruit and cheese platter from the Starbucks down the street.” In 2012, Lang became the bass player for Crack The Lens and rediscovered the joy of making music which, in turn, ignited more songwriting and finding his solo artistic voice as Blaeser.
“For me, songwriting is about the little details, the turns of phrases that change a generic tune into an emotional punch that sits with you. The ones that bring the whole thing down to earth and pull away a curtain on something that’s been right in front of you. Connections and complexities.”