Jay Linden Gazes Apprehensively At An Ordinary Sunrise

The singer-songwriter worries the darkness after the dawn in his latest single.

Jay Linden heads from the darkness toward the light of another Ordinary Sunrise in his latest single and lyric video — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

The melancholic title track from the Cambridge, Ontario folksinger and songwriter’s upcoming album shares a tale about life’s promise and the potential perils lurking in the oncoming day. Inspired by legends like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, through Bob Dylan and Willie P. Bennett, the album is unabashedly acoustic and folk-rooted, with lyrics that leave plenty of room for listeners to stamp their own meaning in between the lines — solidifying Jay’s philosophy that a song’s meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

The result is a record brimming with melodic depth, wit, and Linden’s signature warmth. Ordinary Sunrise sounds both timeless and timely, a reminder of the folk and roots records of days gone by that, as it unfolds, whether a song is two years old or 20, is clearly rooted in the present. It’s a document of Linden’s inner dialogue and perceptions of the world around him. A testament to himself as a musician and songwriter and proof positive that well-considered, thoroughly lived-in songs can sound far fresher and taste sweeter than the flavour of the moment while filling your heart with truth.

When working on Ordinary Sunrise, Linden found inspiration while rummaging through old music. “I found a stack of audio cassettes with pieces of songs that had potential,” he says. “So I went through them, catalogued them, and spent a bunch of time padding around the living room (listening) and playing guitar. But I wasn’t thinking, how many songs do I need for an album? I was just making songs.”

While the title track is sure to connect with those that appreciate substance in their music, the album as a whole paints a scene so vividly, you’d swear it’s right in front of you. Songs like Boat On A River make it obvious Linden’s not trying to be anything other than honestly and authentically himself. Something abundantly clear on the album opener 10 Dollar Show, a sparse earworm that sets the album’s tone and ends up playing in your mind after the first listen.

Ordinary Sunrise was engineered and mixed by Jay’s brother Colin Linden at Pinhead Recorders in Nashville. The process began with Jay recording over Thanksgiving weekend 2021 – the first time the brothers had seen each other in person since the pandemic. As Colin puts it, sessions played out “like a series of candid photos, not a posed portrait, (with) Jay singing and playing guitar, banjo, and harmonica.” Colin added some bits himself and invited a crack group of Nashville session players to give Ordinary Sunrise an extra kick. Featured artists include multi-instrumentalist Jim Hoke, bassist Johhny Dymond, drummers Gary Craig and Jerry Roe, Janice Powers on B3 and keys, and Fats Kaplin on violin.

Linden’s last album Under The Radar came out in 2009, following his 2006 debut Satchel. This is because Linden doesn’t rush or pressure himself into creating. “I’ve always had periods of time where I was playing a lot, and things were coming out of me. So, if I liked them and thought they were good enough to share, I made a record.”

During the ’80s and ’90s, Linden took a lengthy break from songwriting and playing, picking up the guitar again after quitting smoking in 2001, partly because it gave him something to do with his hands. When he started playing again, he did so with enthusiasm, collecting and honing his chops on various instruments, from the common (banjos, mandolins, dulcimers, and autoharps) to the more esoteric (the cümbüş, saz, cuatro, tres, bajo sexto, Spanish laúd).

Watch his Ordinary Sunrise video above, hear more from Jay Linden below, and find him at his website.