WYCKHAM PORTEOUS – 3 AM
His latest album, 3 AM, has taken it's time, but Wyckham Porteous has finally done what he does best. He has emerged as a storyteller, but a storyteller whose personal experience gives the songs on this record a unified philosophical perspective.
From a musical point of view, Wyckham has gone back to the rootsy format of his 1995 album, Looking For Ground. From this, it would be easy to conclude that he has traveled full circle, but that implies he is starting over. On the new Cordova Bay release 3 AM, he has invested the insight he has learned through the intervening years - of being exposed to the downtrodden people of Vancouver's east side and realizing what real suffering is about, of questioning the role of the songwriter, of discovering that writing stories is your destiny. Perhaps it has also helped that he took some time out to compose for the Leaky Heaven Circus and discovered his hidden clownself.
There is an air of resignation about "Harper's Ferry" or "Ancient Heart", a hard won wisdom and a lighter touch than Looking For Ground conveyed. The songs are more forgiving. The stories might not be created from a personal perspective but in the end, the universal truth allows you to see yourself in the song. With Wyckham there is the strange duality of the philosophically observed combining with the newness of realization.
Helping Wyckham to achieve this blend of folk, country, rock and pop was producer and music legend, Andrew Loog Oldham. It was Andrew's idea to leaven the album with an interpretation of The Beatles' "Please Please Me", a song that puzzled Wyckham as he wondered why Oldham wanted him to do it in the first place, but which fit in naturally. It was Andrew who threw out songs that were too folkie or too country, resulting in 3 AM's cohesiveness. "I'd gone back to story writing, which I'd gotten away from," recalls Wyckham. "I gave Andrew 30 songs. He said, Do these. He wanted songs that you could put the needle down anywhere and it created a mood. I really wanted to make a disc that was good players playing good songs as an ensemble. Having Andrew there allowed us to do just that."