Aaron Wrixon
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Aaron Wrixon

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The best kept secret in music


"Review of "The Year of Longing Dangerously" by Shannon Whibbs"

This is a pleasant little concept record that ties together 11 songs of unrequited love. Wrixon’s fictional muse is socialite Charity Wyeth, who spurns him at every turn. There are moments where the various takes on "why won’t you love me?" become tiresome, but Wrixon’s down-home lyrical style belies a sense of humour and keen eye for structure, as he explores the concept from numerous angles. These melodic, acoustic-flavoured country tunes are on a circular path, starting and ending with "You Should Be With Me" (parts one and two, respectively). There’s no better way to encapsulate the agony of loving from afar. - Chart

"Review of "The Year of Longing Dangerously" by Jason Schneider"

The info warns that this is a concept album, but it is really an 11-song letter to an unrequited lover. That may sound tough to take, but Wrixon is too clever and humourous to subject listeners to 45 minutes of self-pity. Wrixon’s dark lady is the fictional Charity, a socialite who won’t stoop to spending some time with someone of Wrixon’s low stature. While several of the songs are overt come-ons, mainly Wrixon argues with himself over why he’s infatuated. These mood swings are accentuated by fine backing from his versatile band and intimate production. This is a charming concept that’s pulled off successfully. - Exclaim!

"Review of "The Year of Longing Dangerously" by Chris Watson"

Aaron Wrixon, late of local band the Go Downs (and late of being local, actually) has concocted that most difficult of alchemical creations: a singer-songwriter disc both clever and catchy, and never self-indulgent or even remotely narcissistic.
The disc is built around the innovative conceit that it's actually a series of songs to, about, and/or for one Charity Wyeth — she who was longed-for dangerously in that eponymous year. You might think that would make for a collection of melancholy or morose music, but Wrixon's got too much life in him yet for that. Although there are a few introspective numbers, the bulk of Longing is made up of concise, countrified pop ditties — songs like "Cards And Letters" or "Too Busy To Be Blue" — that are more true to the sweet absurditites of love and loss than 100 top-40 hits. Oh yeah, and there's some nifty trumpet, too! Add to that the brilliant packaging and artful production, and what you have is a total winner that'll win over your heart even if it doesn't woo back Charity Wyeth. - View

"Interview by Chris Watson"

You might know Aaron Wrixon from his 1996 solo debut Hello, My Name is Aaron Wrixon. Or you might know him from his tenure with the excellent, alt-country-ish group The Go Downs, who peaked with the release of their exquisitely sing-a-long-able Love and Marine Biology in 2001. Or you might not even know him at all. If you do, you’re going to have a chance to rediscover him this week; if you don’t, then you don’t know what you’ve been missing.

If you’re among the latter, what’s absent from your life is a singer-songwriter of the first class, a gifted creator of multi-faceted musical gems that sparkle, shine, and beg for somebody to steal them. If you get to know Wrixon for no other reason, do it because of the adjectives you can apply to his work, adjectives one rarely gets to honestly employ anymore in describing pop songs—adjectives like witty, clever, and maybe even timeless.

Wrixon used to be Hamilton’s own, but we can’t claim that anymore: earlier this year, he moved to Toronto. But that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten his friends in Steeltown. “The move to Toronto was for a couple of reasons, I guess,” he explains. “First, there’s a lot to do and see—a slow Tuesday in Toronto has more going on than a busy Saturday in Hamilton. Second, if you’re serious about making music—something I’m tentatively becoming these days—you really have to move to the big city, I think. To be heard, to be seen… Sometimes it even feels like to be taken seriously you have to be here. One thing’s for sure: you never know who you’re going to meet or what’s going to happen when you go out.

“That said, I still miss a lot about Hamilton. It was easier to make musical friends in the Hammer. And I don’t know… Maybe I’m just biased, but the concentration of talent seems so much higher in Hamilton. Sure, a lot of people in Toronto are talented. But in Hamilton it seemed every second person I ran into had a record that blew me away. You don’t get that as much here.”

If you’re looking for an album that might just blow you away, you needn’t look any further than Wrixon’s new release, The Year of Longing Dangerously. It’s a rich and addictive disc; like the treasure chest you used to get to rummage around in at Red Lobster when you were a kid, you’ll always come up with something new and interesting every time you dip into it. The songs are lively, the lyrics are catchy, and there may even be a concept that ties the whole thing together.

“Well, compared to anything else I’ve ever done, it’s really stripped down,” is how Wrixon describes it. “And quite country-ish. Lots of country chords, tons of twangy vocals… But also some of the most explicitly jazzy things I’ve ever done, too. Bass solos, trumpet obbligatos, the works.

“Lyrically I put in about twice as much work as I usually do, which is saying something—I’m pretty obsessive when it comes to the words.

“But you’re right, there is a concept. Each of the ten songs on the disc is written to a girl I created named Charity Wyeth. Charity is meant to be the perfect object of obsession, the ‘want her but can’t have her’ girl you’ve seen in seven million pop songs since the dawn of time. Charity lives in Forest Hill, drives an SLK, rolls around in money at night. Great fistfuls. Wads of it.

“And me, the poor artist, hopelessly in love with his benefactress, his muse—the one person who won’t have him… These songs are supposed to get her back. Maybe I’ll write a sequel so people know how it turned out.”

Don’t hold your breath waiting for that sequel, however—it’s been almost three years since we last heard Wrixon’s voice pressed to plastic. But it’s not like he’s been resting on his laurels. “Yeah, it’s been about two and-a-half years,” he confirms, “during which time I’ve been writing a lot. These days there’s about three albums’ worth on backlog. Working on my singing, too—I’ve been taking some lessons and trying to get comfortable in my own voice. I’ve been listening to a lot of music… mostly jazz but a lot of Webb Pierce, Ray Price, Faron Young, etc. etc. The good ol’ hurtin’ stuff.”

Wrixon’s music has a few hurtin’ moments of its own, but for the most part it’s a pretty up-beat affair, even when songs touch on darker themes. Over-all, from the sounds of things it’s country music that speaks loudest to Wrixon, and Wrixon may just be speaking back to it on Dangerously—albeit in a dialect of his very own. It all makes for an intriguing mix of genres, one that it’s probably best Wrixon himself try to label. “Well, the bio says old-time country with jazz and pop flavours,” he elaborates. “And that’s ‘pop’ as in Gershwin and Berlin, by the way. Although I guess it’s clear to anyone who’s listened to my music that I’m not really all about the Britney and Christina. Oh wait, I’m sorry. That’s so dated now, isn’t it? Now it’s Avril and Lindsay and Hilary and all of those other milk-fed warblers.

“There’s just so much bullshit on the radio and TV these days,” he continues, “that jazz, reggae and country are really the only things I can listen to. Although I’ve been listening to the new Sonic Youth a lot lately. And like every other sexually frustrated white male in North America right now I have Sub Pop’s holy trinity—The Postal Service’s Give Up, The Shins’ Chutes Too Narrow and David Cross’ It’s Not Funny.

“But as far as speaking back to country… It was never a conscious choice, and not even a choice on the level of ‘I can’t play jazz or reggae so I’d better play honky-tonk.’ A couple of years ago I just reached a point where just about everything that came out when I sat down to play the guitar was a country song. Boom. Instant cowboy.”

Yet cowboys, as all good westerns have taught us, are restless creatures. So what’s next for Aaron Wrixon? “For the first time in my life I’m thinking about touring,” he says. “I guess it’s a result of a sharper focus on the business side, and a realization that what I’d like to do with my music can only be done if I play in front of a lot of people. I’d love to do shows everywhere from Windsor to Wakefield, I guess. Not so much out east or out west, but I could handle whipping up and down the 401 for a couple weeks at a time.

“More music on the way though, so who knows whether I’ll actually hit the road or just go back into the studio for another disc or two. Seriously, I’m on a creative high these days, being here in this big old lonely city, and I think I’d like to get the songs out while they’re still coming. Stay tuned.” - View


2004 - "The Year of Longing Dangerously"
2001 (as the Go Downs) - "Love and Marine Biology"
1996 - "Hello, My Name is Aaron Wrixon" (no longer in print)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Aaron Wrixon is a Vancouver-born, Hamilton-bred songwriter who now calls Toronto his home.

His third album, "The Year of Longing Dangerously" is an engaging mix of old-time country staples, jazz flavors, and smart-aleck pop touches that steers clear of musical name-dropping.

And don't hold it against him, but Aaron's disc has... wait for it... a Concept. All the songs share a common theme of unrequited love for an imaginary socialite, Charity Wyeth.

Which is a pretty dicey proposition. Nobody wants to hear a sad sack bleating for 45 minutes about anything, let alone a broken heart.

Fortunately, though, each tune tackles things a little differently, from the no-bones-about-it pleading of "You Should Be With Me, pt. 1", to the quiet beauty of "For You". And there's a healthy dose of humor in the mix.

Chart says "Wrixon’s down-home lyrical style belies a sense of humour and keen eye for structure, as he explores the concept from numerous angles... There’s no better way to encapsulate the agony of loving from afar." Exclaim calls it "a charming concept that’s pulled off successfully."

And Hamilton's View Magazine thinks "Year" is "both clever and catchy, and never self-indulgent or even remotely narcissistic" and "more true to the sweet absurditites of love and loss than 100 top-40 hits... a total winner that'll win over your heart even if it doesn't woo back Charity Wyeth."

Aaron has shared the stage with similarly minded singers like Carolyn Mark, Jim Bryson, Luke Doucet, Melissa McClelland, both Matthew and Jill Barber, and the Killjoys' Mike Trebilcock — and he'll keep going until Charity comes back.