Devarrow – ‘A Long & Distant Wave’

Devarrow dissects his third album, A Long & Distant Wave

A Long & Distant Wave
Album cover for A Long & Distant Wave by Devarrow courtesy of the artist

After a 5-year hiatus, Canadian singer/songwriter, Devarrow has returned with his 10-track surprise album, A Long & Distant Wave. Armed with a more subdued sound than his previous incarnation, the collection boldly explores the realms of lo-fi soundscapes, embracing the intimate ambiance of a home studio setting. Preceded by the double single release of ‘Kickin’ and ‘In Time,’ A Long & Distant Wave offers a new and exciting chapter for the Canadian artist.

Follow along as Devarrow dissects his third fullength album, A Long & Distant Wave.

A Long & Distant Wave is an exploration of memory and time, conceived and recorded amid the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic but steering clear of any pandemic-centric narrative. The artist crafts a poignant collection that delves into the complexities of change, nostalgia, and the dissonance of life’s moments. Each track serves as a snapshot, capturing diverse experiences without adhering to a linear narrative. The album’s emotive journey navigates through rural inspirations, pandemic reflections, instrumental experimentation, and the profound impact of loss. With a deliberate avoidance of a traditional lyrical arc, the record invites listeners into a contemplative space, echoing the ebb and flow of existence—a series of waves that crash upon the shore and linger beyond view, symbolizing the essence of introspection amidst life’s perpetual changes.

1. ‘KICKIN’’

The inception of ‘Kickin’’ is a bit murky, but the moment it became a full song is a strong and fond memory. The first half of the song came from some doodling in 2017 or so. I brought this to my band when we spent a long weekend demoing and workshopping songs at an old and frigid farmhouse in rural Nova Scotia. We were all listening to Kurt Vile at the time, and felt inspired to make a repeating jam as the second half. We made a demo that weekend which almost made the cut as the final version, but perfectionism got the best of me, and I re-recorded it at my home studio in 2020.


This song was born from an iPhone demo of a basic melody I wrote in a park in a small town in Northern BC. The lyrics came from a place of sadness, mourning the reality of growing up, and the reluctant acceptance of change. I left it at that, and on workshopping for a record in 2020, I unearthed it, finding it fit well with a laid back yet melancholic vibe. In fact, it was one of the first songs I recorded for A Long & Distant Wave, and helped form the backbone of the record’s vibe and lyrical content. This song was also one of the first times I experimented with ad libbing lyrics, and in fact, the lyrics of the outro were all done in one take, with no ready made writing or prompts.


This song is the closest thing I’ve ever written to a Covid song. I wrote it quickly in one sitting days after returning home abruptly from a US tour in March 2020. I remember this distinct moment, the day the world shut down, and how surreal it felt to be in New York City while the world felt like it was crumbling. In a blur, we canceled our tour, got in a taxi and drove to the airport. I will never forget that image of looking out over the Manhattan skyline from the window of a taxi on the highway. The terror of the unknown palpable among us. I returned home to rural Canada, and this song quickly emerged as a way to release my anxiety of that event, but also breathe hope into an uncertain future.


This song was one of my first times experimenting with making an instrumental track. I have never considered myself a technically proficient musician, and I have very little knowledge of theory. I recall this song being written by me just hitting random keys on the piano until I found sounds that felt strange and dissonant. I have no idea what those chords are, but they captured how I was feeling at the time. ‘A Shadow Apart’ is again, about time and memory, and the distance between now and then often feeling dissonant and abstract.


‘Memories’ was one of the last songs to make it on to the record, being recorded in the winter of 2021. At this time, I was experiencing the grief of a dear friend of mine succumbing to a long battle with cancer. This friend represented a distinct period in my life, and with their death, I felt the loss of not only them, but also the loss of an era of my life. First written on the piano, ‘Memories’ took its final shape with Evan Matthews and I doing a live session in my basement studio late one night. Evan played synth, and I sang directly into the microphone beside him. The song was recorded in one take, and only a couple of extra layers of synth and the deep piano were added afterwards. It felt right to sing from the heart, and not let any production cloud how I was feeling in my emotion.


‘Race Car Driver’ was written in March of 2020, being an attempt to blend pop with a more lo-fi DIY folk rock sound. I was inspired by Chris Cohen at this time, and admired how he took pop structure and melody, and was able to blend it so well with totally weirdo experimental production. The lyrics come from a place of feeling caught between my heart and my mind – wanting to do one thing, but my heart wanting something else, and how following one over the other is often an easy escape from the greater challenge of letting the heart and mind coexist in the same body.

7. ‘IN TIME’

‘In Time’ was the first song I recorded for this record, and in fact, the first song I ever recorded in my home studio. It came from a meandering jam I was having with myself by looping layers of vocals and guitar. I’d admit that at first it felt like an unfinished two dimensional bedroom recording, but after revisiting it, I found it’s odd song structure to be strangely compelling, and a nice reflection of what A Long & Distant Wave would inevitably be about.


The title track off of this record was written in an empty apartment in Halifax, soon before it was to be torn down to make way for a new condo development. The house had been vacated, but not wanting to move a heavy piano, the tenants left it in the space. I re-recorded the song at home on my own piano, and added some sounds of waves and synth to give the effect I was going for. The song is an attempt at trying to capture the feeling of introspection as we experience change in our lives, and the title is a reference to the idea that we can only see waves as they appear in front of us upon the shore, but out there, beyond view, are the waves of experience yet to be seen. This record is a reflection on this, and trying to pause time to observe the space between two waves as they approach the shore, and also keeping the memory of waves present, after they explode upon the shore. No waves exist in the past, yet can we hold them in memory, no matter how small or insignificant? As an interesting aside, ‘A Long and Distant Wave’ is also featured on the second half of Bells Larsen’s song Atlantic Love. Bells recorded his album Good Grief at my studio at the same time I was writing and recording A Long & Distant Wave, and we decided to add this song to the end of his, as a way to link our experiences of recording and songwriting together.

9. ‘ELSE’

‘Else,” similar to ‘Kickin’,’ emerged from a weekend of demoing in a farmhouse in rural Nova Scotia. There was an old out of tune piano at the farmhouse, and we used it to come up with a few ideas. ‘Else’ started not as a song per say, but rather an exercise in live performing where we’d try and hit the notes all at exactly the same time. In some ways, it’s harder to be tight as a band when the notes are farther apart. This exercise developed into what became ‘Else.’ The demo was written with much more loud and aggressive lyrics, but upon re-recording in my home studio, I decided to go with a more laid back approach as a way for it to settle in more smoothly with the other tracks on the record. The lyrics, while repetitive, were about the Trump presidency, and how I wished people could just believe in someone else. A lot of the lyrics on A Long & Distant Wave are quite repetitive, partly because the songs were written out of stream of consciousness jamming, but also because the content was less about a narrative, and more about expressing the repetitive nature of experience.


Originating from a place of classic folk, ‘Hard Times Coming’ almost didn’t make it onto the record, but given that it was written at the same time, and contained similar lyrical content, I ended up putting it on in the end, even if it didn’t perfectly match the vibe of the rest of the record. The song was an attempt at trying to write the simplest song I could, while still having all the hallmarks of a good classic folk rock song. I also forgo solos in my music most of the time, but it was fun to let Daniel Crowther dig into a fun solo at the end of the song. It felt like a fresh and fun way to end a record that is otherwise quite melancholic.

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