John Hewitt announces new album Broken Rebels and shares first video ‘Oklahoma’
John Hewitt readily admits that every five years or so he gets restless to the point that he has to shake up his life in a radical way. In 2018 he moved from Toronto to Edmonton, and the change of scenery immediately influenced his output as a singer-songwriter. Although in many ways Hewitt is a classic troubadour—comfortable traveling alone and playing solo—his creative ambitions have expanded over the past few years, as he’s settled into his home studio.
The fruits of that labour can now be heard on Broken Rebels, a nine-song collection set for release independently on May 24, that John says comes closest to achieving the perfect balance between folk and rock that he’s always strived for in his work.
“My last record, Life Blood And Tears, was written and recorded within a one-week period, but it was a solo record, which didn’t require a lot of production,” John said. “With Broken Rebels, I wanted to give myself a little more time. This album allowed me to add more to songs that I felt could use it, while conversely stepping back and letting other tracks breathe. I’d like to think that this might be my recording method moving forward. I don’t feel anything was under or over-produced. That’s not easy to do, and there’s no guarantees it will happen again.”
Supporting John on Broken Rebels are drummer Jordan Dempster and upright bassist Konnor Miskiman, with mixing handled by Brendan Lyons. Overall, the entire process took about a month, and was finished in time for John to embark on his busy spring/summer 2023 tour schedule. In fact, John said that much of the album was inspired by his ever-expanding circuit in the U.S.
“My experiences touring in the States have actually been really good, and it’s led me to write more about the beautiful American landscapes I’ve seen and the people I’ve met there,” he said. “In a sense, this album was written as a love letter to the country that has taken me under its wing and given me a place to perform my songs. Of course I play in Canada too, but I plan to be Stateside more frequently this year and moving forward.”
Among the songs on Broken Rebels that emerged out of these travels are “City Lights (North Country Girl),” in which he channeled his own restless spirit into a portrait of a Midwestern girl looking to reinvent herself in the big city. John also tips his hat to the great Midwestern bard John Prine on “Before The Well Runs Dry,” while the stark “Oklahoma” stands out as an album highlight in terms of both its melody and lyrics.
“I am desperately trapped in ‘60s culture and production sounds,” John admitted. “But when making an album, I take into consideration personal experiences—whether its someone you may have met on the road, or a character you saw in a movie. Sometimes inspiration is just a feeling of desperation, anger, disappointment, love, humour or even outrageous fantasy, like the last song on the album ‘Aphrodite & Me.’ There’s a little bit of everything I’ve seen in my life on this record. There’s also a lot of things I’ve never seen. It’s a new experience every time I listen back to it.”
Pre-order John Hewitt’s Broken Rebels at johnhewitt.bandcamp.com/album/broken-rebels. To keep up to date on John’s current tour schedule, go to johnhewittmusic.com/tour-dates.