by Joey Spehar
I have always thought of Bahamas as soft rock for people who think they are too cool to admit they like Ambrosia. There is something just so smooth about Canadian crooner Afie Jurvanen. The way his guitar playing captures the laid-back vibes of his band’s island namesake; his effortlessly cool delivery of awkward lyrics about growing older and not understanding technology; the way he loves his wife. It’s grown up music, you know?
On Bahamas’ latest album – Sad Hunk – it’s all there and it’s oh so smooth.
Sad Hunk is the 5th album from Toronto-born artist Afie Jurvanen who got his start playing with a who’s who of renowned Canadian artists from City & Colour to Feist to Zues before releasing his debut album, Pink Strat, in 2009. His style has always been hard to compare, though, to that of his peers. Maybe it’s because he taught himself to play the guitar. Maybe it’s because Bahamas IS Afie (which just so happens to be the name of a great record he released a few years back). You won’t get lost in murky metaphors on a Bahamas records, but you will shake your head, shout yes, and laugh out loud at Jurvanen’s brutally honest lyrics about adult life. Check out “Up With The Jones” and it’s playful lyrics about filling the internal void with stuff.
The song kind of makes you want to pull out the kitchen shears right along with him. Honestly, I might be having a bit of an existential crisis while listening to this album and writing this review. I’m slowly becoming okay with growing up, but I’ll admit I still have some childish habits, but it is comforting to have an artist like Bahamas remind me that my stupid problems aren’t all that unique.
Sad Hunk is all about growing up and feeling okay with the comfort that a sometimes-boring life brings. The struggle that I feel sometimes, the guilt I can’t shake for making a living with my brain rather than my back feels all too real on the song “Can’t Complain” on which Jurvanen embraces the fact that he’s lucky to be in the position he’s in.
Work is work no matter what you do and it’s all hard if you’re doing it right. I’m also a sucker for a song about writing songs, so there’s that. I say let’s all try to take Jurvanen’s advice and do more with what we’re given than just make a living. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself in the process.
One of the most fun songs on the album is the single “Own Alone” and its immensely enjoyable guitar solo from a new collaborator.
Jurvanen said the song was inspired by his observations of people since cell phones became ubiquitous. There are upsides and downsides to that, for sure, but if it weren’t for YouTube, he wouldn’t have come across guitarist Sam Weber who plays the solo on this song and it’s just perfect.
If you’re feeling like an adult these days and that doesn’t bother you, throw on Sad Hunk and gently bob your head along with Afie.