David Lafleche had been gestating his Americana album for awhile. Country-tinged folk, cleverly crafted, introspective songs, reminiscient of James Taylor or Jack Johnson. It’s a project that was in no rush. His project. His nine songs.
The album is called Everyday Son.
“It’s a gentle portrait of my life, an album about my family,” says Lafleche. “I decided to quit the world of television last fall. I don’t want to work like a madman and then dress up before going onstage. It’s all very well to work at the MELS (studio) 16 hours a day for something that no longer exists the next day, but after all these years, I feel like I’ve come full circle.”
Lafeleche is the musical director at the ADISQ Gala, musical director for several years at La Voix and Bons baisers de France, composer of the soundtrack to the movie Starbuck. His hectic and high-profile life, which he shares with Marie-Mai, had become exhausting.
“My TV job was a lot of things, not just music director or conductor,” he says. “At 49, I felt like re-inventing myself and jumping into the unknown. I’ll still take on the occasional contract for TV work.
“What I found hard was to prioritize myself. Caring for myself. Not just for one day,” says the man, also the father of a four-year-old girl. “I don’t have a songwriting muscle that I can just flex, and out comes a song! I had to find out what my voice is, what my style is, what I want and have to say. It took awhile, and wasn’t easy to give myself the space and time to do all that.”
Co-produced with Connor Seidel, who has notably worked with Matt Holubowski, Everyday Son was born in Nashville. Lafleche had made a few pilgrimages to Music City before, but this time he was reunited with an old friend he met at the Berklee College of Music when he was 18, drummer Fred Eltringham.
“We were reunited by chance, 25 years later, on the set of La Voix!” says Lafleche. “He was playing with Sheryl Crow. It was like being reunited with your best friend. Then two years ago he was named the best drummer in Nashville!”
Banjo, violin, standup bass, pedal steel guitar; Lafleche surrounded himself with seasoned luminaries of their instruments. “I recorded my record with strangers who have an unbelievable track record,” he says. “I had so much respect and admiration for them that I just let them do their thing. I was in the middle and just played my songs.”
He used only one guitar for the album, his beloved 1946 00-18 Martin. “Had it been just me in my studio having fun with my electrics, the album would’ve been entirely different,” says Lafleche. “My love of music starts with an instrument that vibrates. I would finger-pick and ideas would emerge.
“I’m constantly recording 20-second snippets of melodies on my phone. For example, sitting on my stoop watching a loon will make me feel an emotion which I translate into music and save for later. I then drew on all those ideas during my five-week stay in Nashville.
“We had to deliver, and I’m good in that kind of situation, that’s my strength in the TV world. When I flew back to Montréal, all the instrumentals were recorded. The only thing left to do were the voice tracks and that’s where Connor [Seidel] came in.”
Listen to “Training Wheels,” and the resonance of the purring guitar. Gentleness all around. Or “Counting Lights,” where David tells us about driving back and forth on highway 15, the melody caressed by Russ Pahl’s pedal steel guitar. “We Collided,” a Jack Johnson-esque ballad, certainly isn’t out of place in this Americana bouquet.
“My partner Charles-Émile Beaudin, who did the recording on site for these sessions, just had to lift the faders, there’s never anything in the way of anything else, that’s how I work,” Lafleche explains, about the sonic clarity of Everyday Son. “Joe Costa put all his skills into the final mix of the album.”
Marie-Mai co-wrote eight of the nine songs, and she sings on one of them, giving the lion’s share of the vocals to Julie Da Silva, the guitarist’s inseparable backing singer from La Voix. On “Better Run,” our diva duets with her lover. “My challenge right now is to remember my lyrics,” says Lafleche. “Marie-Mai will listen to a song once and be able to sing the whole thing back to you!”
But the real crush on this accomplished record, beyond these brilliantly constructed and lovingly concocted songs, is his voice. It’s unbelievably efficient, poised, and never fake. It’s a genuine leather voice. You don’t just hear it, you feel it.