“I’m kind of a junkie for sad songs and ballads,” says Bob Sumner, the younger half of Vancouver-based Americana outfit The Sumner Brothers. “As a teenager most of my friends were into hip-hop, but I felt pretty out of place rolling around suburban White Rock, British Columbia, pumping gangster rap.” Sitting in his room with his headphones on, Sumner compiled downhearted mixtapes pulling together the more introspective songs of CCR, The Band, Led Zeppelin, Emmylou Harris. As he began writing his own songs, this innate attentiveness to songcraft and emotional understanding became a hallmark of Sumner’s songwriting and aesthetic.
In the years since, he’s released five albums with The Sumner Brothers, blending sounds as disparate as Neil Young and The Dead Kennedys, but Bob Sumner’s Wasted Love Songs (out January 25) presents Sumner back in the bedroom, attentive to the quieter recordings of his formative years. Engineered and produced at Vancouver’s Afterlife Studio by Erik P.H. Nielsen, the album features synthesizers, keys, and pedal steel from Chris Gestrian and Matt Kelly (The City and Colour), and string arrangements by Jesse Zubot, grounded by guitars from Etienne Tremblay and Paul Rigby (Neko Case) and drums by Leon Power (Frazey Ford). Helmed by the gentle intentionality of Sumner’s voice and lyricism, this rare debut from a songwriting veteran expresses the timeless quality found in the melancholy of Townes Van Zandt, the atmospheric momentum of Tom Petty, and the prophetic restlessness of Bruce Springsteen. Marked by Sumner’s mature songwriting the album presents a longingly gorgeous landscape undergirded by lush sonic flourishes that are equally classic and modern. In short, Bob Sumner’s Wasted Love Songs has the heft and heart of an instant classic.
Today Glide is excited to premiere the video for the tune “Ticket to Ride”. Recorded live at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver, B.C., the video was directed by Elliot C. Way. The performance captures the sparse Americana and twang of Sumner and his band. With its imagery of travel, trains and an everyman character, the song is reminiscent of troubadours like Bruce Springsteen and Joe Ely with plenty of twang. Sumner and his band display a penchant for balancing lonely and poignant soundscapes with heartfelt lyrical narratives.
Bob Sumner shares his own perspective on the song and the production of the video:
“We’ve been touring these songs mostly as a duo, but the record has a pretty full sound. We’ve got some incredible players on there. Synth, Pedal Steel, Piano, Organ, Strings, Guitars, Drums & Bass. These are folk songs at the core, and our arrangements don’t take away from that. I wanted the world to see and hear this incredible band, all of whom are dear friends of mine. I asked my best bud Elliot C. Way to direct the thing, make it interesting. He pulls this Harry Dean Stanton, Dennis Hopper thing out of his ass and nailed it as the kitchy host, which you’ll see more of with the release of the companion vid for ‘Comin’ Around’. Rob from RZ Cinematography, who has been killing it in town with his music vids, filmed and edited. The Rio Theatre was built in 1938 and stands as a beacon of hope, a vestige of culture in a city hellbent on destroying such things. ‘Ticket to Ride’ was inspired by an event I witnessed in my hometown years ago. It was dead of winter, very cold outside. There was this homeless couple at a gas station. They had bought some sort of a lottery ticket, a Keno maybe. The attendant wouldn’t let them stay inside and wait until their numbers came up. As I was leaving I looked over at the fellow who was peering in through the window, shivering and cold, repeating to himself under his breath, ‘You never know, you never know, you never know’. That moment packed a lot of power. I wrote ‘Ticket’ from the perspective of four characters who thought, all for different reasons, that it was time they ‘board that big black train up to the spotted sky’”.
Bob Sumner’s Wasted Love Songs is out January 25, 2019. Check out a few Pacific Northwest tour dates below and visit bobsumnermusic.com for more music and info.
Jan 23 – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR
Jan 25 – The Wise Hall – Vancouver BC
Jan 29 – Tractor Tavern – Seattle, WA