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Albums Of The Week: Kevin Hearn & Hugh Marsh | Dreaming Of The 80s

The BNL utility player and the Can-rock violin MVP heart the Me Decade — but not in the way you expect — on this collection of reimagined hits and obscure favourites.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Barenaked Ladies pianist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Hearn and Juno-nominated violinist Hugh Marsh have joined forces for Dreaming Of The 80s, a new collection that unites a diverse group of the decade’s classics hits and deep cuts — reimagined in Marsh and Hearn’s uniquely atmospheric and ethereal sonic environment.

Dreaming Of The 80s was conceived on the spectacular Fogo Island Inn off the eastern coast of Newfoundland. Hearn and Marsh were invited to play for New Year’s Eve 2018, and decided to pepper their set with a few covers. Among them were Heaven by The Psychedelic Furs, Lou Reed’s Rooftop Garden and Cemetery Polka by Tom Waits — all written and recorded in the 1980’s. “Performing only as a duo, our stripped-down interpretations illustrated what finely crafted little songs these were,” Hearn recalls. Upon returning to their shared home of Toronto, he and Marsh enlisted engineer Kenny Luong to record their crafty reimaginings before carrying on with their various other projects and collaborations. In 2020, the forced downtime of the COVID-19 pandemic brought the trio back together, coalescing in what Hearn calls a “creative little lockdown bubble.”

Esteemed opera singer Michael Colvin elevates the aforementioned Cemetery Polka while new wave icon Carole Pope adds complementing vocals to a fresh take of Billy Idol’s Eyes Without A Face. Hearn’s fellow Lou Reed accompanist Fernando Saunders seemingly warps time on Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ and Sun Ra Arkestra trumpeter Michael Ray lends his touch to a medley of tunes from his former bandleader.

The colourful album cover features Kevin’s dad, who is now in his 80s. “In 1981, with my portable Kodak camera, I snapped a photo of my dad ‘dreaming in the 80s,’ wrapped in a quilt that was hand-made by my mother. A quest began to find the quilt so that we could restage the photo, and my friend, artist Don Porcella, hand-crafted the cube with pipe cleaners so that it could float above Dad’s head. My dad was quite chuffed by the whole thing. He also recites the Sun Ra poem New Horizons, which opens that medley.
“We hope this little collection offers a glimpse of how thrilling and diverse the musical landscape was throughout the decade,” Hearn shares in closing. “There were so many amazing artists creating, innovating, and shaping the musical future. This record was a joy to make for all of us, and I trust that’s apparent in the result. Like, totally.”

Watch my interview with Kevin Hearn HERE.