By Will Yannacoulias
Photos by Quentin Friesen
Regina singer/songwriter Nick Faye tipped his hand last April, revealing to longtime listeners what he’d been up to during the pandemic. “Calm You Down”, the first new single from Faye in three years, is a lyrically poignant plea to a frustrated lover set to a beautiful waltz-y alt rock backdrop. Two more equally impressive summer singles, “Costco Magazine” and “Make It Right”, promised that Faye’s forthcoming album would be worth the wait. September saw the release of the Gettin’ Better ep, and the announcement of a German tour to follow an appearance at the hallowed Reeperbahn festival. Gettin’ Better became an immediate favourite; a powerful, candid collection of stories paired with unique, unforgettable songs, and was an easy choice for NSMZ’s Album Of The Year.
Faye has long been a fixture of the Saskatchewan indie music community, performing with punk and hardcore bands as a teenager and in university. With his group The Deputies he emerged as a talented songwriter, releasing three albums since 2014 and touring Canada extensively. “I learned that I loved music when I started writing my own songs” he shared. “It opened up a whole world for me, to unlock this thing that brings me so much joy. I love performing but I’m really driven to write, to tell stories. Also, having grown up seeing these amazing local songwriters perform in Regina, Andy Shauf, Zachary Lucky and Julia McDougall, inspired me as a 16 or 17 year old to want to be a part of that community.”
Gettin’ Better marks the first time Faye has released music as a solo artist, but assured that the absence of his Deputies band mates was a pandemic decision moreso than a creative one. “This album was recorded with just my friend Chris Dimas and I, because of COVID and people moving away it was difficult for The Deputies to get together to write & record. Chris played drums and electric guitar. He did an amazing job, a lot of the compliments I’ve gotten on the songs are on the lead guitar lines, and that was all Chris. I love his playing and I’m thankful for everything he contributed to these songs. I played acoustic guitar and bass, that was a cool pandemic project for me, writing bass lines for the first time.”
Lyrically the album is smart, sincere and candid, a heartbreak record that deftly sidesteps cliches and tropes. Faye avoids talking about the ‘feelings’, instead creating narrative moments and poignant scenes, giving glimpses into private vignettes the listener cannot help but personalize. “The themes I dealt with on Gettin’ Better are the complicated feelings of love, loss, regret, and rejection” Faye reflected. “Right when the pandemic was starting, I got laid off from my job and had all this time on my hands, and spent most of it sitting in my backyard drinking coffee and writing songs. In a lot of ways I was thankful to have that time to reflect on all those difficult emotions.”
Musically the album is an absolute treat to listen to, a seamless blending of roots-y twang and alt-rock cool. Faye mentioned in conversation artists such as Megan Nash, Andy Shauf, Zachary Lucky, Northcote and Julia McDougall, and was warm to the suggestion that smart, sincere alternative singer-songwriters with just a little country inflection could be a distinctly Saskatchewan sound. “It’s impossible to grow up not listening to country music here” Faye shared. “My dad farmed near Kelliher and I spent my summers there with the AM radio playing Garth Brooks, Vince Gill. I do think there’s a Prairie sound. It might not be a singular sound, more a vibe, a combination of sounds, tones, and imagery.”
Gettin’ Better, Nick Faye’s solo debut and NSMZ’s choice for 2022 Saskatchewan Album of the Year, is available on all streaming services.