End of the Road is my follow-up album to 2018’s Broken Dams. Whereas Broken Dams was recorded in a single 14-hour studio session, End of the Road was recorded during the better part of a year. Begun in late 2019 the project was still in its infancy when the 2020 pandemic struck, which brought into focus a theme for my album – literally the end of the road, or the end of touring, gigging, etc. The album art features photographs that tie into this specific theme such as the ancient flywheel on the front cover, which signifies where the road meets the wilderness and then is overcome by it. There is also the Stanfield sweater shot, which signifies the classic garb of a Canadian logger who at one time had a use for such a mountain-side flywheel as part of a so-called electric donkey, used to drive trams up and down steep, timbered slopes. The ocean waves shot signifies where so many roads here on the West Coast actually end – at the sea.
Although some of the songs deal in dark subject matter like death and loss, there are also joyous and even humorous moments on this album; pleasure and sorrow are locked in a kind of embrace on End of the Road, as I wanted to capture the complexity and irony of the human condition. I wrote about characters – some real and some imagined – who dove into the absurdities of existence; they lived, loved and even died haunted by ghosts chasing dreams. They pined for affection and raged at their own unlovingness and foolish disregard for others. Sometimes they also shrugged off their burdens, mocked the stiffness of their fellow beings and allowed their sense of freedom and entitlement to mingle with their most irresponsible instincts. In short, the characters that made up the cast of this album all faced their own days of reckoning, in a medium marked by catchy melodies and harmonies, in a soundtrack both folkish and danceable, but ultimately, in my mind, rocking.
Produced by Grant Olsen
Grant Olsen: vocals, guitars, bass, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, accordion, drums and percussion
Pamela Messner: vocals
Fraser Blackley: podrum, bodhran and ratt
Engineered by Grant Olsen
Mastered by Ohan Vandermeer at Dialled in Audio
Photography by Laura Guerra, except for front cover by Grant Olsen
Cover Layout: Laura Guerra
All songs written and arranged by Grant Olsen