Dale Boyle
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Dale Boyle

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | SELF

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | SELF
Band Americana Blues


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"Boyle is an accomplished musician, a fine singer, and an exceptionally thoughtful, meticulous songwriter."

Dale Boyle’s Small Town Van Gogh is dedicated to little-known painter Tennyson Johnson, a humble soul who died in relative obscurity. One could easily assume the title is autobiographical, though, as Boyle crafts gentle, unassuming portraits of a vanishing world with delicate strokes and a painter’s eye for telling detail.

Boyle hails from the Gaspe region of Quebec. Time moves in a slower arc there, and the rhythms of the earth itself, the passing of days and the change of seasons figure far more prominently in life’s daily fabric.

Boyle’s songs lament a world too busy to take notice of the small details that provide colour and meaning to life’s tapestry. The disc’s opener, “Tom,” is a meditation on our tendency to overlook our icons until they’re gone; the title track is a touching tribute to Johnson, whose renown would never equal his talent. Elsewhere there’s “No One Lives Here Anymore” and “Nowhere Town,” both exploring the way hopes and dreams can be crushed by isolation as the world hurries on it’s way. The lone cover is an apt choice – Springsteen’s “My Hometown” fits right in, it’s elegiac air perfectly suited to the disc’s somber mood.

The sound is somewhat dark, Boyle opting for hushed tones (his voice, in fact, not far from Springsteen’s in the latter’s quieter moments) and acoustic accompaniment. His guitar work is exemplary, showing him a fine picker indeed though he avoids grandstanding, instead employing understated, subtle arrangements that support his narratives without distracting from the power of the words.

A lovely disc with many rewards for careful listeners willing to take the time, this one’s a keeper. Boyle is an accomplished musician, a fine singer, and an exceptionally thoughtful, meticulous songwriter.

Well done, Dale!

Written by John Taylor

- Canadianblues.ca

"“One of the best to emerge from north of the border is Dale Boyle who has recently released his second CD entitled Small Town Van Gogh”"

Montreal may not seem like the natural home of country-inspired Americana, but the region is home to numerous aspiring roots music artists. One of the best to emerge from north of the border is Dale Boyle who has recently released his second CD entitled Small Town Van Gogh. The 10 songs featured on the CD are essentially solo acoustic performances based on country, folk and blues traditions. The result is a recording where the focus is on the songs themselves, not glossy studio techniques. The performances range from the acoustic country-folk of the opening track "Tom," to the bluesy Steve Earle-inspired "If I Come Back," to a twangy folk version of Bruce Springsteen’s "My Hometown," to a Celtic instrumental entitled "At the Kitchen Table." Despite its foundation in traditional Americana, Boyle’s music is heavily influenced by his rural hometown in the Gaspe region of Quebec. The album’s title track, for example, is a tribute to a little known Gaspe painter Tennyson Johnson who influenced Boyle’s development as a musician. When not performing, Boyle is a freelance writer and music researcher who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in education at McGill University.
- AmericanaHomeplace.com {USA}

"“Great songwriting”"

Gaspe native Boyle easily borrows from the banks of country, blues and folk and sounds like a natural doing either one of them in this little gem of an album. "Idalene" , is directly inspired by Ligtning Hopkins while "Tom" and "Send Monica Away" are country fused ditties only sparked even more by Boyle's warm soulful vocals. The title track, an ode to late Gaspe painter Tennyson Johnson was actually heard by the deseased artist on his deathbed. Boyle brings back honest , organic ,soulful country with great songwriting. Even his cover of Springsteen's "My Hometown" deserves mention.
Rating: 8/10
- - Duke Eatmon (CBC Homerun)

"“Boyle wastes no notes or chords in his craft-his lyrics are hauntingly direct and to the point”"

Dorval’s Dale Boyle, one of Quebec’s most prolific award-winning young blues songwriters and performers, released his second and latest CD, Small Town van Gogh, earlier this year.

His first in 2004, In My Rearview Mirror: A Story from a Small Gaspé Town, featured The Wilbert Coffin Story, a song about the wrongly-accused miner who was hung in Montreal’s Bordeaux jail in 1956.

Boyle seeks a return to the blues tradition of storytelling through song. Every song is an original on the almost all-acoustic 10-track album, the only exception being Bruce Springsteen’s My Hometown, and that’s because of its “personal resonance.”

“I believe blues songs should have something to say,” said Boyle, valuing not only message over technical delivery, but the importance of “talking about what we have before it’s gone away.”

Boyle wastes no notes or chords in his craft — his lyrics are hauntingly direct and to the point.

The album’s title track pays homage to an artist in Boyle’s working-class Gaspé hometown who turns his hands to art in the absence of physical labour.

Other overlooked small-town heroes on his list include: Stompin’ Tom Connors and First World War veteran William “Duke” Procter, the unnoticed bartender, the alcoholic lover and all that remains of our country’s many deserted towns and villages.
- - Barbara Lavoie (West Island Chronicle)

"Boyle’s “passion is evident in his recently released album Small Town van Gogh, a tribute to the late Gaspé painter Tennyson Johnson”"

Dale Boyle always knew that he would make a living out of music — it was in his blood.

“I grew up in a very musical family,” says Boyle, 34, who was born and raised in Barachois, a small town in the Gaspé.

“I counted once; in my town there are five houses pretty much on top of each other, with family, cousins and so on. Overall, 17 musicians came out of these five houses alone. I thought, ‘wow, what’s in the water there?’”

Boyle moved to Montreal in 1996, and while he has been fine-tuning his music, he’s also been teaching and working on his Ph.D. in Education at McGill, researching the usefulness of music in teaching non-music-related subjects in school.

But if he could, Boyle says he would concentrate simply on the creative process of writing music.

“My favourite part is sitting somewhere, anywhere, with my guitar and doing what I love, writing songs,” says Boyle from his home in Dorval. “I would love a career in songwriting; for me, that is like wanting to go to the moon.”

That passion is evident in his recently released album Small Town van Gogh, a tribute to the late Gaspé painter Tennyson Johnson. It’s a personalized collection of songs, with Boyle explaining their story and significance on the inside cover. He wrote Tom — about Stompin’ Tom Connors, famous for documenting Canadian stories and people through his music — to point out that the media tends to speak of certain people quite a lot after they have died instead of giving them their due during their lifetime. In Boyle’s eyes, Connors deserves attention now rather than after his death.

“He is an icon, but sort of forgotten in a way,” says Boyle. “There should be room for everything in the media, especially on the radio.”

Most of the songs on Small Town van Gogh were inspired by his upbringing, and tell about life in a small town in a bluesy, folksy style with country influences. Boyle embraces the latter now, but that wasn’t always the case.

“I grew up with it, but as a teen I listened to anything but country,” he says. “I remember, in my grad book in high school, I said my pet peeve was the repetitive meaning of the average country song… Now, the country influence is pretty evident in my music; it’s just part of my make-up. I’m not so much into modern country, but what I like from the traditional country is the strength of story-telling. They tell stories in a simple way, and that is what I took from it.”

Boyle’s hard work is already paying off. He picked up Quebec’s 2005 and 2006 Lys Blues Folk/Blues Artist of the Year award.

In the future, Boyle says he might start writing about life in a big town like Montreal. “When I came here, I wasn’t used to seeing homeless people on the streets and people just stepping over them and treating them like they would treat trash,” he says. “I wasn’t used to the fact that people here weren’t speaking to each other, but over the years, and this is sad to say, I have grown accustomed to it.

“I’ll always have something to say and I want to write important songs. I’d like to see that more respected in the industry. The key to writing music that is genuine is writing about what you know; I learned that early on.”

For more information, go to www.daleboyle.com. - - Julia Gerke (The Suburban)

"“Boyle employs the same direct, poignant folk, country and blues on his polished and evocative sophomore CD, Small Town Van Gogh”"

“Boyle employs the same direct, poignant folk, country and blues on his polished and evocative sophomore CD, Small Town Van Gogh” - - Jamie O'Meara (The Hour)

"“Small Town van Gogh: 4.5 on 5”"

Een nieuwkomer kan je de uit het Canadese Montreal afkomstige Dale Boyle bezwaarlijk nog noemen. Daarvoor was de indruk die hij in 2004 met zijn debuut “In My Rearview Mirror: A Story From A Small Gaspé Town” naliet gewoon té sterk. Die een weinig aan Springsteens “Nebraska” herinnerende plaat leverde hem in eigen land zelfs terecht al een aantal awards op. Lokale weliswaar, maar toch. De man heeft het gewoon! Als je erin slaagt, om twee platen op rij lang je publiek te blijven boeien met als enige partners in crime je eigen licht gruizige stem, een akoestische gitaar en een handvol zelf gepende liedjes, dan ben je wat ons betreft uit het goede hout gesneden.

Niet toevallig allicht is de enige vreemde eend in de bijt op ’s mans tweede een erg fraaie cover van Bruce Springsteens “My Hometown”. Net als The Boss heeft Boyle immers een zwak voor songs, waarin het eigen verleden, de eigen afkomst een prominente rol spelen. Dat bleek al uit het materiaal op zijn debuut en ook op “Small Town Van Gogh” kan je er amper omheen. Al durft hij daarop duidelijk ook andere thema’s aan te snijden. In “Tom”, het openingsnummer van de plaat, hekelt hij zo bijvoorbeeld het mediafenomeen om aan artiesten pas echt de aandacht te besteden die ze verdienen als ze er niet meer zijn. Hij gebruikt daarin het Canadese icoon Stompin’ Tom Connors om die stelling kracht bij te zetten. Zo goed als die ook is, zal ook hij wellicht moeten wachten tot na zijn dood om in wat bredere kringen erkenning te oogsten. En dat is een trieste vaststelling, aldus Boyle. In “Send Monica Away” heeft hij het vervolgens over de ongelooflijke aantrekkingskracht die geld op sommige mensen uitoefent. Wordt de protagonist uit dat liedje eerst nog als een loser afgedaan en gedumpt door zijn vriendin, dan heeft hij naderhand alle moeite van de wereld om haar van zich af geschud te krijgen, als hij plots wel in de centen komt te baden. “If I Come Back” is vervolgens mede door de inbreng van Richard Element en Kevin Mark op respectievelijk bas en drums een knap, duidelijk naar de hoogdagen van Sun Records verwijzend countrybluesje. Boyle etaleert in dat liedje terloops ook een uitstekende gitarist te zijn. En dat is trouwens niet het enige instrument waarop hij een aardig eindje uit de voeten kan. Luister maar eens naar de heerlijke, ergens tussen bluegrass en Keltische folk ontstane mandoline-instrumental “At The Kitchen Table” en je zal onmiddellijk begrijpen, wat we daarmee bedoelen.

Andere hoogtepuntjes nog op “Small Town Van Gogh”: het verstilde, aan de twee jaar geleden op de gezegende leeftijd van 106 overleden Canadese W.O. I-veteraan William “Duke” Proctor gewijde “Over 100 Years”, het akoestische bluesje “Idalene”, het vanuit het perspectief van een barman in een klein stadje, arm aan perspectieven geschreven “Nowhere Town”, het qua thematiek dicht daarbij aanleunende “No One Lives Here Anymore” en zeker ook het ongemeen mooie titelnummer.

Van het beste wat we dit jaar op singer-songwritervlak al te horen kregen hier! En deze plaat (En haar voorganger!) niet kopen is jezelf wat ons betreft dan ook flink tekortdoen.

- - Crrl.Alt.Country E Zine {Belgium}

""Boyle pays a fond tribute on the record's title track”"

It is sometimes said that the apprenticeship of a musician is the process by which he comes to discover his own unique style. For Dale Boyle, a PhD student in the Faculty of Education who also writes and performs award-winning folk/blues songs, finding a distinctive voice was largely a matter of recognizing the beauty in his own backyard.

The 34-year-old Boyle, who hails from the small Gaspé town of Belle-Anse, said that his first, adolescent forays into songwriting invariably ended in frustration because the heavy metal bands he was unconsciously emulating usually sang about "dragons and dungeons," subjects he didn't find particularly inspiring.

"I came to a realization a few years back: that to stand out and be different was the easiest thing, the answer was right in front of me and it was just to go with what I knew, to sing about what I knew," said Boyle, who plans to release his third album, Small Town van Gogh in June, and to complete his doctoral studies in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education by December.

Like his previous album, 2004's In My Rearview Mirror: A Story from a Small Gaspé Town, his new release will reflect the Gaspé culture in which Boyle grew up. The album's title refers to Tennyson Johnson, a little-known painter from the Gaspé to whom Boyle pays a fond tribute on the record's title track.

"[Johnson] was a guy who always painted what he saw. He painted our community. But I don't know if our community as a whole, myself included, really appreciated it to the degree that we should have," said Boyle. "That's why I was writing the song about him."

Sadly, following a battle with cancer, Johnson died in the spring of 2005, before Boyle could record the song. While this is clearly a disappointment for the musician, he said he's glad he at least got the opportunity to sing "Small Town van Gogh" to Johnson before the artist died.

Just as Johnson and other Gaspé personalities have significantly influenced Boyle's evolution as a musician, so too have many of the people he has met at McGill, including psychology professor and music and cognition expert Daniel Levitin, who runs the Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition and Expertise. Levitin, who has worked as a record producer with artists ranging from the Blue Öyster Cult to Chris Isaak, has now contributed his services to the production of each of Boyle's three albums.

"We started chatting and I passed him along one of my first demos. And he liked it." Boyle said, explaining that he made Levitin's acquaintance while taking his introductory cognition course as an undergraduate student in psychology. "I don't know if he felt sorry for the production quality of it, but he offered to help me out and that's what he did," he joked.

Levitin has played a major role not only in Boyle's music, but in his studies as well. In fact, the PhD thesis on which Boyle is working is partly an analysis of Levitin's teaching methods.

"In a general sense, I'm looking at how music can be integrated across the curriculum," he said, adding he'd someday like to work as an educational consultant helping instructors incorporate music into their teaching. "Specifically, I'm looking at how Dan Levitin integrates music into his course and what it means for students—their motivation, their understanding of material."

On the musical side of things, being at McGill has enabled Boyle to collaborate not only with Levitin, but also with behavioral neuroscience PhD student Susan Rogers, who has recorded Prince and the Barenaked Ladies, not to mention Schulich School of Music visiting scholar and rock production legend Sandy Pearlman.

Levitin, Rogers and Pearlman are heady company, indeed. But as Dale Boyle will be the first to tell you, it's amazing what you can find in your own backyard.
- - Mike Murphy (McGill Reporter)

"Small Town van Gogh is "in keeping with his love for telling rich, heart-felt tales""

Small Town van Gogh is "in keeping with his love for telling rich, heart-felt tales" - - Jennifer Coutlee (The SPEC)

"“With only an acoustic guitar, he captivated us from the very start with his stories and his sense of humour”…“his performance ended with a standing ovation!”"

“Seule avec sa guitare acoustique il nous attrappe dès le début avec ses histoires et son sens de l'humour”… “son spectacle s'est terminé par une ovation debout des spectacteurs!” - Le Net Blues


* Deep Fried and Countrified - Kitchen Shakers (2009)

* Small Town van Gogh (2007)

* In My Rearview Mirror: A Story From A Small Gaspe Town (2004)



Dale Boyle is a Gaspé born, Montreal-based award-winning singer-songwriter. He has been called “One of the best to emerge from north of the border” (AmericanaHomeplace.com) and “an accomplished musician, a fine singer, and an exceptionally thoughtful, meticulous songwriter" (CanadianBlues.ca).

He is an International Narrative Song Competition Winner; Lys Blues Songwriter of the Year award Winner; Two-time Lys Blues Folk/Blues Artist of the Year award Winner; International Songwriting Competition and USA Songwriting Competition finalist.