Folky indie rockers The Citizen have just released their first EP Dressed for Winter – only a few years after the band broke up.
“We were quite proud of the tracks and it would be a shame to sit on them forever,” says guitarist and vocalist Andrew Lehr. “Releasing the record now is certainly untimely, but we hope that it might still tug at the heartstrings of the lovely people who faithfully came out to our shows.”
Lehr said the band started out as a two piece in the spring of 2011, with him and drummer Mike Sloan putting together enough material to play gigs at The Levee and CBTG’s. Later that year, bassist Andrew Laite joined the pair.
“At that point we started to find our sound as The Citizen. We became a little more folky and perhaps more accessible,” said Lehr. “When Dave [Greene] and Allison [Chaytor] joined the band, we added trumpet, keys, synths and lead guitar to the mix. The live shows at that time had a different atmosphere, I think.”
This led The Citizen to the recording of Dressed for Winter in Dartmouth in the spring of 2012 with producer and engineer Chance Gillis. Lehr, Sloan and Chaytor went back the following spring to finish the recording, adding depth and filling out the EP’s four songs.
“Sloan and I went back with Allison and she laid down a ton of brass tracks,” Lehr said. “We filled out the songs with texture and riffs and spent a lot of time on the arrangements with Chance. It was a lot of fun to build the songs with him.”
The end result is a lush and smart set of songs that tap folk, rock, and grunge sounds, led by Lehr’s yearning lyrics and raw vocals. He said despite the record’s broad range of influences, the songs had a common thread running through them. “I think the common denominator was the desire to portray something epic and emotional,” Lehr said.
The Citizen won’t likely be reuniting anytime soon but the band’s members haven’t totally stopped making music together.
“The band is broken up for good. I’m living in Germany now … [but] each time I get back for a visit Sloan and I jam a bunch. The last time I was there Sloan laid down drum tracks for an album I’m working on,” Lehr said. “The essence of the band lives on.”
And three years on, Lehr is glad to finally have Dressed for Winter out in the open for those who supported the band and to keep it alive – in a recorded form, at least. “It’s certainly bittersweet listening to the songs from my apartment in Germany now a few years later,” he said. “[It’s] a relief … a brimming cup of nostalgia.”