It’s easy to fall for the effortless, everyman charm of Jon Middleton and Roy Vizer. Seasoned musicians and long time friends, their brand of indie-folk is pretty much a genre in itself; evoking fog-shrouded mountains and evergreen treetops, sun-dappled beaches and the crackle of a campfire. With over 30 million streams worldwide, it’s clear many others have been captivated by Jon and Roy and the stories they tell.
Jon and Roy’s 8th album Here epitomizes their journey to date; an assured collection of 9 brand new songs that touch upon themes of love, presence, hardship and joy. Building upon the creative energy of 2017’s The Road Ahead is Golden, Here is an aural balm to soothe in these uncertain times; a gentle reminder to be present, to revel in the simple joy of living. “To me, this album is something special,” says Middleton, “It contains all the elements that I hold dear about this band, and it feels free to me; as true an expression of our music as we’ve ever created”
Recorded in the quiet forests of Vancouver Island over the summer and fall of 2018, Here is quintessential Jon and Roy. “Half of the songs were written this past year,” Middleton continues, “but the other half are 2, or even three years old, and have needed time to simmer to get where they needed to be.” In the title track, Middleton’s beguiling vocals weave a languid tale atop of Roy Vizer’s laid back percussion. The tracks ‘Headstrong’ and ‘Seven Colts’ are buoyant, filled with an exuberance that is elevated by a breezy horn section and strong vocals. In the raw and honest ‘Where Has My Love Gone’, Middleton laments lost love; his impassioned vocals rising over Vizer’s stripped back drums. A compelling lyricist, Middleton is renowned for not sharing the meaning behind the songs; instead encouraging the listener to draw upon their own personal experiences to find connection, “I love that our songs have an ambiguity to them,” he says.
Jon and Roy’s live shows are well known for Middleton’s stirring performances coupled with Vizer’s instinctive rhythm and impeccable time keeping. In recent tours, the inclusion of a horn section have lifted these performances to even greater heights; it’s not uncommon to see packed venues united together in rousing, joy-filled refrains. And it will be more of these sell out crowds that Jon and Roy return to in March 2019 for their 5th European tour in 3 years. With new audiences and bigger venues, this is shaping up to be their most successful run of European dates yet.
Of course, these west coast troubadours are no stranger to big crowds and life on the road. They’ve toured with Xavier Rudd, the Cat Empire, Trevor Hall, and Toots and the Maytals, and have played festivals across Canada (Edmonton Folk Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival. Ottawa Bluesfest)), the USA (BottleRock, CA, Levitate Music Festival, MA) Europe (Bulli Summer Festival, Germany, Sziget Festival, Hungary, Rock Les Bains, France) and the UK (Boardmasters). The band shines in front of a live audience, but it’s not the only avenue in which Jon and Roy have garnered new fans. Canny song placements in TV shows on HBO, NBC, MTV and OLN, combined with long running in TV ad campaigns for Lululemon, Volkswagen and Scotiabank, have further cemented their reputation.
Here, with it’s honest, open heart, is so much of what is Jon and Roy, and the world is all the richer for it.