Full of uptempo, poppy anthems that vibrate between the early 80’s and alt-rock 90s, the majority of Paul Brace’s Liars and Actors doesn’t tonally fit with what one might call a “meditation.” But for all intents and purposes, the album is an 8-song attempt to find peace amidst a storm.
But instead of letting life-altering events throw him into dreary, sparse musical places, it instead led him to 8 songs infused with care and polish, with celebration, with thought, and with all sorts of emotion – not just those reflective of an existential crisis.
From the outset, U2 tones conspire with funky samples to bring you into the fold with “Awake.” There’s a lot of ground covered over the 8 songs, from Blue Rodeo-esque Canadiana to epic nu-metal overtures. It’s a toybox of sounds, reflective of a man who obviously has a large palette of tastes.
Paul Brace is an accomplished musician, and this album was a long time coming. Besides a life as a band member with local alt-rock juggernauts HotXProxy and Waterfront Fire (whose members feature heavily on the album), he’s been plying his singer-songwriting skills for years now.
A regular radio host on Coast 101.1, a fulfilling and respected musical life sounds like a goal many of us close to the industry would have – but then came cancer. Treatable cancer, thankfully, but his focus rightfully turned to battling the beast in lieu of other pursuits.
This record stands on its own feet, a prime example of a musician fully motivated by catharsis and a pure creative spirit. Don’t listen to it because of the story – listen to it because it’s good, and let the story give it context.
But his mortality became more and more evident through treatments, giving him the drive to make a fully fledged album. This album. The one that every musician wants to think they’ll get around to someday. The album that best exemplifies what they want to achieve through music. Few can say they ever did it, let alone made an album that served as a breakout piece of work, garnering well-deserved accolades.
Liars and Actors will always come with the baggage of Paul’s cancer. There’s no way around it. It’s the book the story was written in. But the motivations behind the album serve mostly as an aside, and often a theme it tackles.
Sympathy for suffering is one thing; the art that arises from it another. This album was borne from such turbulence, but by no means should it be judged solely on it. No – this record stands on its own feet, a prime example of a musician fully motivated by catharsis and a pure creative spirit. Don’t listen to it because of the story – listen to it because it’s good, and let the story give it context.