Jim Bryson

Jim Bryson


Known as "one of Canada's most underrated songwriters" (Exclaim!) and as a singer that channels "acres of old-fashioned heart and soul" (Q Magazine), Jim Bryson is a craftsman at his best, penning songs that effortlessly draw us into his world: a cosy, autumnal nook few converts choose to leave.


Oh autumn, I feel you creeping in, finding the gaps in the caulking, stirring the leaves outside the window. It is a feeling that suggests soup, and I put a pot on, melt butter, chop onions, try not to cry. On the turntable, Jim Bryson’s "Where the Bungalows Roam." This is music perfect for such a day, and as the warmth of the opening strains of “Flowers” filters through the house and as Bryson sings, “When you run from the city and run to the country, are you running from me?” my roommate peaks her head out from her room and asks “Who is this?!”

It is the response Bryson’s music so often provokes. There is something different here. Is it the voice, the words, the melodies? At first glimpse, the components are familiar: an acoustic guitar, piano, a voice worn around the edges. Yet we hear it and know this is something we haven’t heard before. There is a “grain in the voice,” a story in the words, a humour in the sadness, a musical touch that makes you feel human, alive, here. As one writer at Q put it, Bryson has “acres of old fashioned heart and soul.”

That heart and soul finds its way into every Bryson song and performance. It is why Bryson has garnered so much critical acclaim for his solo work, prompting, for example, No Depression to call him “one of Canadian music’s best kept secrets.” It is why fans hang on every word at legendary performances such as that captured in the live recording "Live at the First Baptist Church." And it is certainly why acts from the Weakerthans to the Tragically Hip call on this understated songwriter from small-town Ottawa to add his unique sound to their live shows (Bryson is currently a full-time touring member of the Tragically Hip and Kathleen Edwards bands).

In a grainy video clip from the First Baptist Church performance, we see Bryson handing out shakers and tambourines to 5 or 6 members of the audience who stand on the stage with the band. A joke is made. The crowd laughs. Bryson starts to sing, “I got tired of sleeping in Toronto” and one boy with a shaker can’t help but sing along “I got tired of telling my friends I want to go home.” The cue arrives and with a little hesitation the shaker choir starts. A person in the crowd gives an excited ‘whoo!’ and we are away. Here is everything we have come to expect from Bryson: an unforgettable melody, a lyric that cuts to the bone, an easy way with an audience, a moving musical experience.


Pissing on Everything (from

Written By: Jim Bryson

Pissing On Everything


To tell you the truth my friend,
You’re confusing and confounding
And it's hard to breathe the air, around here
When you’ve taken all the fresh air in.

And to tell you the truth my friend,
All your bullshit's been wearing thin,
And you never really could, ever see much good,
Cause you never let the good get in.

It's tough to know, when you’re just waving and smiling,
It’s tough to know, if you’re always up to something,
It's hard to grow much here, it's clear, when you’re pissing on everything


And I can say this all once again,
You’re confusing and confounding.
If you cover with boards, all the windows and doors,
You’ll never let the sunshine in

To tell you the truth, my friend
This bullshit is wearing thin,
And it's hard to breathe the air, around here
Cause you’ve taken all the fresh air in.

And you’ll never know, if you’re just waving and smiling
You won’t know, when you’re always up to something,
And you’ll never grow much here, it’s clear, when you’re pissing on everything

It’s hard to know, if you don’t try out the landings,
And you won’t know, when you’re always up to something
And you’ll never grow much here, it’s clear, if you never let the sun shine in

If you never let the sun shine in…


The Occasionals (2000, independent)
The North Side Benches (2003, Orange Label)
Where the Bungalows Roam (2007, Kelp Records)
Live at the First Baptist Church (2009, Kelp Records)

Set List

All the Fallen Leaves
Somewhere Else
Clear the Crowds
Captain Finch
My Marie of the Sea
Without Piano
Sleeping in Toronto
The Lost Occasional
One Cigarette
Mean Streak