Cinematic, soulful, and smoldering, ‘Pearl’ aches with heated passion and raw vulnerability as Bobby Bazini finds clarity and catharsis, making peace with his demons and rediscovering himself on a deeply intimate, yet undeniably universal journey.
Stream: “Pearl” – Bobby Bazini
They say that you have your whole life to write your first album, and I feel like that about Pearl. I feel like I’ve been making this album and preparing for this moment my whole life.
It’s not just that Bobby Bazini shines as a singular beacon of warmth and light throughout his latest album; it’s that he does so, all while deeply aching at the same time. Born in a space of reflection, reckoning, and redemption, Pearl seeks to make beauty out of pain; to not just shine a light on the darkness in our lives, but to turn it on its head and make it one of our strengths. Cinematic, soulful, and smoldering, Pearl aches with heated passion and raw vulnerability as Bobby Bazini finds clarity and catharsis, making peace with his demons and rediscovering himself on a deeply intimate, yet undeniably universal journey.
You laid me down easy
Laid me down broken
You buried me deep
But left me wide open
You thought you took everything
But you left me with the moon
You thought you took everything
But I’ma hold on, breathe on
Let the stream run
No more hard livin’
No more head low
Just a halo,
Now everybody singin’
La, la, la, la, la, la…
– “Pearl,” Bobby Bazini
Released August 25, 2023 via Bobby Bazini / Spectra Musique, Pearl is as great an exhale as there ever was on record. It may be Bazini’s fifth studio album – arriving on his fourteenth year in the music business – but the multi-platinum, JUNO and ADISQ Award nominated artist sounds born again in these new songs that find him picking apart himself, his relationships with family and friends, and the world around him.
The follow-up to 2020’s fourth album Move Away, his last release with Universal Music Canada, Pearl sees a freshly independent Bazini leaning into the intricate nuances of his golden vocals as, together with producer Connor Seidel, he creates vast, yet insular worlds that comfort even as they provoke an intense emotional response in the listener.
“It all started when I came across an article about how pearls are formed,” Bazini tells Atwood Magazine. “When foreign objects such as grains of sand enter the oyster, it protects itself by surrounding them with layers of nacre. From an irritant, the oyster manages to create one of the rarest and most beautiful materials in the world! The idea that something so precious and beautiful can be made as a natural defense against something negative really inspired me, and I started making a connection to a darker time I had just gone through.I was thinking of a pearl, and how as a songwriter, my natural response to negative experiences was always making music so I approached producer Connor Seidel with this concept. ‘Pearl’ was the first of many songs written at The Treehouse in Sainte-Adèle, QC.”
“When we wrote the first track, it was clear to us that the album had to be called ‘Pearl.’ We were both so excited about making a concept album based around that idea. Creatively speaking, it felt like there were so many things that we could do with this concept. Early on, we barely had any songs and we were already writing down track listings for it. We’d try to imagine how the songs would be played live and how the vinyl would look like. For example, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to have a blue vinyl edition because of the song ‘Turn Blue.’ It was really inspiring to have a title right from the beginning of the process.”
The album’s searing, beautifully orchestrated title track and lead single set the tone of the forthcoming record upon its release in early March. Bazini shines like a beacon of light in the darkness as he sings his own redemption song, delivering a captivating chorus that spills out into a cascade of la la la’s.
One song quickly led to another as Bazini built a world around and beyond that initial pearl metaphor, channeling the fracture and friction he felt inside into his beloved vessels of artistic expression: Songwriting and singing. Visceral emotions flow freely throughout Pearl, resonating in both the songwriting and Bazini’s own stunning vocal performance.
“The concept evolved over time as we discovered more creative ways to tell the story,” he explains, “but having that clear idea of where we wanted to go from early on made the writing so much more focused and efficient. The songs were just flowing so naturally. The whole thing happened really quickly. After only a few weeks we had all the songs written. This is the first time that something like that happens to me. Most of the time I’ll write songs and I sort of just discover what it all means as I write, but for this one it was a completely different experience. Making this album was such an inspiring and creative journey.”
Bobby Bazini has already established himself as a singular voice throughout his native Canada and beyond, and yet, Pearl is an unparalleled reintroduction to him as an artist and as a human. It’s a fresh start – something bold, something beautiful, and something altogether new.
“To me it’s the album,” he says. “I’ve been wanting to make an album like this forever. It’s my fifth record, but also in a way it feels like it’s my first. They say that you have your whole life to write your first album, and I feel like that about Pearl. I feel like I’ve been making this album and preparing for this moment my whole life. In some way, I don’t think it would have been possible to release it before though as I feel like the past experiences and the music that I made before made me who I am and got me here. I think this is a very exciting new beginning for me. I have never felt so free creatively and I’m already thinking ahead about what the next album will be like.”
Bazini describes Pearl as a “‘70s, chill, and cinematic” record.
Certainly there’s a warm, laid-back vibe to these songs, and yet they nevertheless cut deep, hitting us in where it hurts the most – and these songs hurt in all the best ways.
From the aforementioned, irresistible “Pearl” and the spellbinding, achingly evocative and deeply intimate “Turn Blue,” to the soul-stirring “Heartwood,” the churning, heartfelt “I Don’t Talk to My Mother” – a powerful, unabridged look at Bazini’s own familial fracture and disconnect – and the beautifully brooding, cathartic finale “Forever Had to Run,” Pearl presents brutally honest and unapologetically unfiltered stories together with catchy melodies and utterly breathtaking singing. Atwood Magazine had the pleasure of premiering standout single “Waterfallin'” earlier this year, calling it “a radiant, relentless rush” and a “mesmerizing tempest… the kind of all-consuming track that washes over us, pouring its might not only on our ears, but into the very depths of our souls.”
“I love every song on this record, but if I could only name one, it would be ‘Turn Blue,’” he says. “Any day, I’ll pick up a guitar and tune it down just to play that song. It’s so fun to play and it has a sort of “healing” effect about it. The kind of healing that music has.”
Ask most songwriters to choose their favorite lyrics, and they’ll likely reject the premise of your question. But this time around, Bazini is quick with the draw. “My favourite line is simply: ‘Follow the flowers.’ It’s the last line of the “Interlude (Mona & the Moon).” To me, it’s about pursuing something beautiful, whatever fuels you or sparks a flame inside of you. It takes me back to the very beginning when we started making this album and started dreaming about what it would sound like.”
Wherever you press play on Pearl, Bazini is sure to warm the ears and stir a heavy heart and soul.
There’s no doubt that making Pearl had a healing effect on its creator, and now that it’s out in the world, it can do the same for us.
“I think making Pearl was a transformative experience for me,” Bazini shares. “It has helped me grow as an artist and a songwriter but also as a person. Lyrically, I’ve never been this personal and honest in my music. And it’s something that I hope to continue doing.”
“Even though Pearl is a personal journey, I really hope that it connects with people. There is a lot of music being released every week these days, and it’s harder and harder to get through all the noise. And I have no idea how far this album will go but for me, these songs and the experiences that I had making them, I’ll never forget.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Bobby Bazini’s Pearl with Atwood Magazine as he goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his fifth studio album!
Stream: ‘Pearl’ – Bobby Bazini
:: Inside Pearl ::
The concept of “Pearl” was born when I came across an article about how pearls are formed: When foreign objects such as grains of sand enter the oyster, it protects itself by surrounding them with layers of nacre. From an irritant, the oyster manages to create one of the rarest and most beautiful materials in the world! This concept inspired me as I made a connection to a darker time I had just gone through and felt strongly about using this as a springboard for my next album. The idea floated around in my imagination for half a year, until I met Connor Seidel. Pearl was the first of many songs written at The Treehouse in Sainte-Adèle, QC. It’s about turning the negative into something positive, when the sand/irritants enter the shell, something beautiful can be made.
I Don’t Talk to My Mother
I wrote this song in the spring of 2020. I was feeling a little low because of the isolation, and I just kind of sat at the Wurly and wrote all the words in one go. The song felt so personal that I remember thinking I’d probably never release it. A year and a half later, I showed it to Connor Seidel, and honestly what he did with the song, it just felt too important to leave aside. It became such an important part of this project. Like of one those ‘’anchor’’ songs. This track and ‘Pearl’ are both opening the album, and the way Éveline Rousseau’s harp and the ocean connect both songs together is just magic. This kind of intro is what I was hoping for when we started imagining a concept for the album.
I think the very moment when we wrote this song was quite a defining one for both Connor and I and for this project. We wrote it in the very beginning and creatively speaking, we were both boiling up inside with ideas. Connor had come up with this Nick Drake inspired tuning, but then it’s also got this Brazilian soul inspiration in the vocals and feel. Any day, I’ll pick up a guitar and tune it down just to play that song. It’s so fun to play and it has a sort of “healing” effect about it. The kind of healing effect that music has. It’s about the fear of losing passion or love for something/someone. It’s asking the question : “If I were with you all the time, would you turn blue?” It’s like, while we were making this record, we were constantly dreaming of the sea, but what if we were actually there when we made it? Would all of this be the same?
Take It Out on Me
Whenever this song starts, it always feels like you’re ‘’in’’ the record. It’s such a feel good track and the band’s energy is so contagious. Originally, we had this theme melody in the intro that we thought would be great for a brass section. During the process I was listening to a lot of music from the 70’s, and honestly I just love the use of flute in Soul and Folk music in that era, and one day I said to Connor : ‘’Why don’t we have a flute do that melody instead?’’ And we got Félix Petit to do it, and his performance is exactly what I was hoping it would be. Lyrically, it’s a song for my brother who’s been dealing with high anxiety almost all of his life. Because it’s something that is invisible to the eyes, it might be hard to believe or understand sometimes, but it’s there and it’s real. The song is just me talking to him and letting him know I’m there for him.
Ojalá is one of the very few love songs on this album, this album is more about a personal journey, but I wanted to write a love song. I read a lot of historical books with medieval settings, I just love this kind of stuff, and one day I was reading that back then they would say that if you planted Marigolds in the footsteps of the one you love, they might fall in love with you. It’s about this person who’s desperately in love with someone, and will do anything. Ojalá is a beautiful Spanish word of Arabic origins that means “I hope” or “if only.” And it was the perfect sentiment for the song I was writing.
It all started when Connor showed me some chords he’s had in mind for a long time. Something in the way he played on the nylon guitar made me think of a waterfall. I immediately started singing the melody ‘Oh you’re waterfallin’’ thinking of how I felt in that moment. We were both in this creative zone, writing almost everyday. My head was constantly searching for ideas and songs. The only thing I could compare it to in that moment was a waterfall, it never stops, always flowing. Later when we recorded the song, we even went as far as trying to replicate the sound of a waterfall with a lot of the instruments like the harp, and piano. Conner Molander (Half Moon Run) plays this amazing piano part. The more the song evolves, the more the waterfall loses control.
A few years ago, before I meet Connor and before we start creating ‘Pearl’, I was touring in the U.K. with The Wandering Hearts, and I had a day off and decided to spend it by the beach with my friend & singer-songwriter, Gizmo Varillas. We wrote this beautiful dark Folk tune which I kind of put aside at the time. Months later, Pearl was pretty much done, but I was still searching for songs in case I had missed anything. I reached out to Gizmo again, and told him the story of ‘Pearl’ and played him some songs. The conversation sparked the idea of ‘Living Again’. We were jamming around the chords, trying to find words for it and then Gizmo found the lyrics from that old “dark Folk tune” we had written before. I started adding them to the melody, and honestly, as I was singing, it just worked so perfectly that it was kind of scary. It’s almost like it was just sitting there waiting for us to combine those two ideas together. I think now in a way it makes sense because I needed to go through all of this before I could finish that song. When I started working on this project, I was in dark place, and writing and creating again, it really felt like living again. I could see the connection with the pearl in its shell. The “turning of something negative into something positive”. I was proud of the music I had created and I felt like I had a story to tell.
Sometimes a song is being born before you even think of a melody or words. This one started with a flower. One day, I was walking past a lavender stand at the mall, and I saw these dried lavenders and it just sort of triggered something in me. In the car ride home, I started hearing this melody in my head and the line “I left the flowers on the table.” As soon as I came home, I went straight to the Wurly and wrote the song with my girlfriend Odessa Pagé. I think that song is a reminder to take care of yourself, your mental and physical health. Just like a flower needs sun and water, we’re kind of similar in a way. During the pandemic I started gardening at home with my girlfriend and I think that was one of the highlight of the pandemic for me. To kind of just return to the essentiel things. To spend some time at home together and take care of ourselves and let the flowers grow for a little while.
Interlude (Mona & the Moon)
To me, this one is like a poem for the album, and the journey of Pearl. We recorded that song the day we wrote it. We opened all the windows in the studio, and you can kind of hear the wind and the birds leaking into the recording. We recorded with just one mic, Connor played the nylon and I just sort of recited the words. I love the last line « follow the flowers ». For me, it’s about pursuing something beautiful, whatever fuels you or sparks a flame inside of you.
I read this great book by Canadian author, Michael Christie called Green Wood, and it’s about family and there is a clever link between the rings inside the roots of a tree and family generations. I really loved this book, and it kind of inspired me for this song. I was thinking of my own relationship with my family which has improved a lot now but has been difficult in the past. I was wondering how long it takes for some of the rings in the tree to heal, how long it takes for the patterns to break. And how much time it takes before you can walk your own path. The groove is inspired by the songs of Jorge Ben. Connor and I are both huge fans of him and we’ve listened to his stuff a lot while we were working on this album. We got Félix Petit to do this crazy sax solo, which is really cool cause it’s the only saxophone moment on the entire project, but it just sets the song on fire when it happens. I wanted that one at the end so it feels like one last jam, and it’s probably the one I’m most excited to play live now. I think it has that ‘’live’’ energy to it that makes it a special moment on the album and that will undeniably be special live.
Forever Had to End
I wrote this one in Nashville back in 2015. I was lucky enough to write songs with Chris Stapleton. I’ve only released one song from that session, but this one, I sort of always kept with me like a little gem I knew I would use when the time was right. When we started working on the album, I played it to Connor, he picked up the nylon and we started jamming the song, playing around with the chords a little bit, and we found a way to make it work beautifully with the sound we were going for. I think you can still hear that at its essence it’s still a country song, but it’s now very much a part of that world we created for Pearl. It’s the perfect ending for this album. The strings give me shivers every time I hear it. The back vocals chanting: “open, open up” as the music fades. The song is about that inevitable ending of things and accepting it. Accepting change and knowing that it’ll bring good. “Forever had to end.” It’s time to shine again.
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© Alexandre Couture
:: Stream Bobby Bazini ::