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Taze Kozak creates a compelling collage of past and present in ‘Painted Pistols (Acoustic Version)’

There are times in life when the past and present collide. It’s surreal, that’s what Canadian folk-rocker Taze Kozak captures in his new single, “Painted Pistols,” from his new album Paper Airplanes — both available now.

“Painted Pistols” evokes a lonely highway long after midnight. The centre lines lull you into hypnosis as the dead of the night take on their shape and character. The Comox Valley, BC-based artist sings with the candour of Johnny Cash over acoustic guitar. The lyrics alternate between dark and plucky taking us on a journey from gangs fighting in the streets of Los Angeles, to the narrator soaking in a bathtub and drinking whiskey.

There’s the sense that none of it, and all of it, matters. Taze describes his state of mind when writing it as: “Feeling strong, weak, helpless, a helper, a father, a loser, a winner, warmth, cold, insight, and outsight.”

When he wrote the song, Taze faced his mother’s addiction and multiple attempts on her life before dying by suicide. He was bringing back memories of growing up with a father who had been paralyzed from a motorcycle accident. The song captures the back problems Taze gained from working in forestry and the painkillers he took with alcohol to ease the pain. The song is a connection between himself and his upbringing while worrying about the possibility of leaving his young children to care for him.

my heads spinnin’ like a hurricane
for I’ve been drinkin’ pinot noir and poppin’ the codeine
and yes you know that it’s taking me down so slowly

“It was a beautiful and hard time in my life, a reoccurring theme which spirals in and out,” he says. “Things have been lost, things have been gained, things continue to move and colour themselves as they please.”

Every day Taze was at his makeshift recording studio, a motorhome parked in the backyard. He recorded songs off-the-cuff, without writing most of them down. It was therapy.

For a decade, the self-taught singer-songwriter, and guitarist performed soulful melodies laced with his subtle wit. Released in 2022, his six-song sophomore album Paper Airplanes follows 2021’s LP, Painted Pistols & Lo-Fi Poetry.

The new release brushes shadowy scenes, yet lets the heart dance as it’s influenced by outlaw country, gritty blues, and jazz.

It’s an album that’s grittily real and authentically atmospheric. You can hear the pattering of rain against the motorhome in “Kettle of Fish,” a narrative about Taze’s grandfather’s old moonshine. At times you can hear a helicopter overhead and squeaks from an old chair Taze sits on. The song “Orange Honey” is about spring and digging in the garden –- the hope for new beginnings.

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