Scott Roos, Herald Contributor
Saskatoon ex-patriots Wide Mouth Mason released their eighth studio album Friday titled ‘I Wanna Go With You.’
It features a creatively reinvigorated guitarist and frontman Shaun Verreault who has spent the last five years perfecting a new technique on his lap steel guitar but, more importantly, it’s been eight years of Verreault taking considerable time off of recording and touring to spend time with his daughter.
“I was bound and determined that I was not gonna miss my daughter’s first steps or words. (I didn’t want to) see it on my phone in the parking lot outside a club in Ajax, Ontario or something,” explained Verreault in a recent phone interview.
The time at home in Vancouver with his family also gave him the chance to work on his lap steel playing. At first, a bit of an intimidating chore, the cerebral and analytical side of Verreault’s personality soon took over and his “C3PO Finger” style of playing was soon devised. It includes the use of three gold coloured guitar slides on his fretting hand and it’s this innovative style of playing that is most prominent on the “I Wanna Go With You.”
Verreault continues, “I love blues music and I certainly love some records that are like a slow blues where it goes through the chorus five times and someone’s playing a stratocaster and solos over top of it, but I didn’t feel like I had anything important or interesting to add to that. When I started writing these stompy blues songs on lap steel I felt like I found the corner of the room that hadn’t been walked over.”
The result of all of this time writing and recording is a fresh aspect of Verreault’s playing that most people have likely not heard from him before. It’s got this old timey, free wheeling vibe steeped in the tradition of just leaving things be and letting the music breathe. Most of the songs on “I Wanna Go With You” required a minimal amount of takes. Mistakes were left as they were. As a result, the music presents itself naturally and that gives it a flavour not often heard in the digital age.
“The plan was to just let it be what happened and then not fret about it afterwards. Move on to the next thing and record the next one and capture those moments of inspiration when they happened and let them be human and imperfect and if the vibe was right then move on,” states Verreault.
It’s evident as you listen to the record that this “let it be” approach has injected new life into a band that in the past has only been known to the casual fan for a handful of niche hits, a track on “Big Shiny Tunes 2,” and midcard Edgefest appearances. They have emerged from the 90s and an eight year hiatus in the 2000s with something distinctive and exciting to say.