Band: The Hidden Cameras
Album: Home On Native Land
Label: Outside Music / Yep Roc / H’Art
Joel Gibb is the lead singer, songwriter and choir captain of the band of folk art rockers The Hidden Cameras. Since forming in Toronto in 2001, Gibb and his gang of musical provocateurs have created music and live performances legendary for their raucous celebration of freedom, sexuality and sound.
Home on Native Land marks the beginning of new chapter for Gibb and The Hidden Cameras. It’s an ode to the country of Gibb’s birth and a return to Canadian soil physically and philosophically. Leaving adolescence behind, The Hidden Cameras pick up and head west to commune with musical ancestors and explore with the gentle folk sounds of the Canadian countryside. Gibb invokes the spirit of the lonesome cowboy as he plumbs the depths of musical memory and delivers an album of toe-tapping rhythms, twang and heartbreak.
With the first line of Home on Native Land, Gibb announces a departure. "I burned everything I own, left it in a pile smoldering,” begins “Day I Left Home.” He leads The Hidden Cameras on a search for something simpler, more beautiful and pure (“Down on knees, digging out the weeds, of all the years”), playing with genre and experimenting with old sounds.
Each song is a journey to an invented past. To a place where city boys find solace under open skies and crooning cowboys ride horseback hand-in-hand. Home on Native Land beckons listeners to follow - to gather ‘round the fire, sing until you fall asleep and share the same dream. It’s a place that you might not have been before but which feels like home.
Gibb borrows from the classic country songbook, reimagining soulful standards like “Dark End of the Street,” and “Don’t Make Promises” originally recorded by Tim Harden. “Log Driver’s Waltz” is The Hidden Camera’s cover of one of the most successful and beloved Canadian folk songs of all time. “He is the Boss of Me," is Gibb covering himself with a rerecording of an early 4-track demo from 2001's Ecce Homo, now given a full studio treatment.
The album makes new offers to the genre with infectious melodies (“Big Blue”) and wild hymns (“Drunk Dancer’s Waltz”), backed by a steady beat and sighing guitar. Gibb’s talents as a songwriter and composer have matured and are on display in the marriage of instrument and vocals. Home on Native Land is finely wrought with moments of great fragility between swells of raucous emotion. In this collection of songs and stories Gibb reaches into the past to find new ground, while singing playfully pointed lyrics oozing with hopefulness and sorrow.
Home on Native Land was written and recorded over ten years by Gibb with friends, bandmates and icons including Mary Margaret O’Hara, Rufus Wainwright, Feist, Bahamas, Ron Sexsmith and Neil Tennant. Gibb once again assembles a band of musical accomplices and takes them on an adventure in revisionist history. Together they form a chorus of voices over a score of dulcet tones and cool banjo rock.