Local writer Iain McCurdy lingers with loneliness and isolation on his spoken word album, They Will Never Know, created for last month’s RPM challenge.
“It came together fairly suddenly, and haphazardly. I wrote a poem because the moon was cool,” says McCurdy. “I found out from Lori Brown on The Signal on CBC that the light just left of the moon was Jupiter.”
Inspired by miscommunication, late night radio, and the largest planet in the solar system, McCurdy started recording They Will Never Know just before midnight out in Holyrood, and finished it within days. He released the 11-track album under moniker Literary Sensation Iain McCurdy.
On first listen it’s hard to believe They Will Never Know came into fruition hard and fast. It doesn’t sound rushed, or raw. McCurdy grapples with a desire to communicate, modern disconnection, existentialism, and life’s allusive meaning. His poetic voice is both strong, and vulnerable.
They Will Never Know began with a series of accapella recordings of poems, and simple acoustic guitar riffs bookending each track. McCurdy got in touch with producer and musician AE Bridger, and They Will Never Know became a sonic expedition. Bridger took McCurdy’s musical motifs and filled in the negative space.
“It comes across as more laboured than it was because the words were written beforehand. They are deliberate and direct. Everything is out of the way of the words,” says Bridger. “Iain riddled these stories off like recitations. His relationship to the writing comes through. Everything musically is just in support of that.”
McCurdy pokes fun at a wordy speaker in, “A Poet From Town,” pays humble homage to the late Ron Hynes in “Downtown Ditty (a tribute),” while “Avoid a Void, Make A New Void,” is a confessional Tinder heart-to-heart between two people who are 5,000 miles apart. The album’s closing track, “Midnight Siesta,” an ode to an overdose, echoes elements of Elliott Smith.
They Will Know poetically conveys tales of unrequited love, distance, gender violence, and the challenge of communication, electronic or otherwise. McCurdy recognizes the ugly and unthinkable human behaviours of people behind a computer screen, and how anonymity plays a significant role.
“You can be more honest, or angry, or whatever. ‘Pitter Pater’ is like stories I keep hearing about violence against women, and attitudes around sex and cheating – someone telling someone else, oh they’ll never know,” says McCurdy. “Or people just being abusive because the abuser knows that no one will know. No one will be believed.”
McCurdy’s late night musical neurosis documents the power of language, and how poetic form can be subverted. They Will Never Know charts the arc of a character moving from living online into the real world. Despite the shift, the outcome is the same: isolation.
“There is a through line of a story. It wasn’t conscious at the time. I knew I was working with distance, and what technology does for distance. It can bring us closer in some ways, and make us distant in others. It’s not inherently worse than real life. It’s just different kinds of distance.”
Stream it or download it at https://literarysensationiainmccurdy.bandcamp.com