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Singer-songwriter Henry Jamison talks new album and tour

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Singer-songwriter Henry Jamison talks new album and tour (photo by Patrick McCormack)

His songs have been streamed more than 85 million times, but he’ll tell you that he’s not a big deal. Henry Jamison’s fans are likely to tell you otherwise when the Burlington, Vermont-based musician brings his band to his old Portland stomping grounds on December 8 for a show at Port City Music Hall with dreamy baroque-folk pop band Darlingside.

While listening to an advance copy of Henry Jamison’s upcoming album, “Gloria Duplex” (out on February 8 via Akira Records) I was struck by the lyrical imagery on display in songs like “Boys,” “Gloria” and the new single “Ether Garden.”

Each of the 12 songs on Jamison’s follow-up to his acclaimed 2017 full-length debut “The Wilds” functions like a theater of the mind mini-movie that subtly deconstructs the concept of masculinity from boyhood to adulthood. The record is almost certain to dramatically expand Jamison’s audience.

“For anyone paying attention to my last records, I think they’ll notice a big difference both sonically and thematically,” Jamison told me during an interview before stating that he’s unsure of how his new songs will be received or even why people might want to hear them.

“Sometimes I feel like I don’t have the ability to zoom out enough to think about how other people might perceive my music,” Jamison said, taking the time to choose his words carefully. “I don’t know why people should listen to it or even if they should. It’s just something I created that I’m putting out into the world. Some people will like it and some people will pass it by and that’s fine.”

That’s a refreshing admission in the age of hype to hear an artist so casually but assuredly state that he’s OK with people not investing the time to check out his new work. Like his songs, Jamison is understated in conversation, but he can’t deny that he already has a sizable and devoted audience that is paying attention, even in a concert environment susceptible to talkers and selfie-takers.

“They do listen which is pretty miraculous, but I don’t think it’s anything special about me,” Jamison said when asked about the attention span of his audience. “I think that has more to do with the bands I’ve been opening for and just playing in small rooms for nice people. I would say that at about 97 percent of the shows, the audience has been completely attentive and responsive. It feels like they’re right there with me.”

Jamison’s audience, albeit a smaller one, was with him a decade ago during his Bowdoin College years when he led the band The Milkman’s Union, a pseudonym for the teenage songwriting Jamison. That band continued beyond Bowdoin as Jamison called Portland home for nearly three years.

“I was 22 and it was fun,” Jamison said of those mostly carefree days when he made “almost no money as a kind of ‘glorified poster child for One Longfellow Square.’ That’s what they used to call me. I would walk around and put up posters for upcoming shows. We played a lot of colleges and I went to a lot of house shows and drank beer.”

Since the release of “The Wilds” last year, Jamison says his life has changed in a huge way.

“I’m gone all the time. It seems like I have two modes. In one mode, I’m home and sort of in recovery and reading and then I’m going back out. When that happens, it’s pretty alarming, even to me. In a few days, I’ll wake up again and realize that I’m leaving for tour and I’m snapped into a different mode where I have all of the adrenaline and energy to go for a month. It’s a very exciting feeling but also kind of scary in a way. I think of myself as valuing quiet, solitude and peace. When I travel from city to city, the world just feels like an absolutely wild place.”

(Tickets for Henry Jamison and band with headliners Darlingside, Saturday, December 8, at Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St. in Portland, are $15 in advance and $18 day of show, and available at www.PortCityMusicHall.com.)

Last modified on Thursday, 06 December 2018 16:24

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