Ken Yates bares all in new album’s revealing lyricism

Folk singer-songwriter leads new concert series at Stone City Ales

Ken Yates at Stone City Ales.
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For Stone City Ales’ first show in their ongoing concert series, the restaurant was host to an intimate performance by Canadian singer-songwriter Ken Yates. 
 
The local brewery and kitchen was transformed for the night, with restaurant seating shifted aside to make room for rows of chairs gathered around a small stage. The room was lit with vintage lightbulbs and filled with patrons and the performers’ friends and family. 
 
The show was presented in partnership with North of Princess Recording Studio, where Yates recorded his 2016 album Huntsville. Opening for Yates was fellow North of Princess artist, Time Victim. 
 
Her eclectic set featured a covered track from 80s Russian music sensation Alexander Malinin, a sung rendition of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and original song “Master of the Mouth,” performed with her husband on keyboard. 
 
Yates then took to the stage and began his show with“Fairweather,” a new song featured on his third album Quiet Talkers, which is set to be released in 2020. 
 
The album’s titular song reflects the artist’s readiness to share his life with his listeners. “Quiet Talkers” came from an idea Yates had about a specific experience he hopes is universal.
 
“You know when you’re out late at night with somebody and it feels like you can kind of solve the world’s problems in that moment?” asked Yates. “Then, the next day, it all goes away.”
 
Yates says Quiet Talkers is a step forward from Huntsville in both musical ability and emotional maturity. 
 
On stage, his self-deprecating humour charmed the audience along with his plainspoken music that told everyday stories of work, travel, and love. Whenever he wasn’t singing, Yates had the audience laughing, in a stark contrast from the night’s quiet start.
 
The singer broke down the typical image of a glamourous rockstar lifestyle, which doesn’t ring true for him. When on the road—in his Honda Civic—Yates said most of his social life consists of the audience interaction he engages in when performing. 
 
However, that didn’t impact his natural stage presence on Wednesday as he transitioned between story and song. 
 
His folk-rock lineup featured original songs “Keep Your Head Down” and “Sarah Don’t Shoot,” vignettes of long weeks on the road and relationship disputes. 
 
“Most of my songs start with the music first, and then [often] the music dictates what kind of vibe the song might have,” said Yates in an interview with The Journal. 
 
“Sometimes there’s this particular story I want to write about, [or] sometimes it’s the title that I like.” 
 
While Huntsville was largely inspired by his experiences touring and retellings of friends’ stories, Yates describes Quiet Talkers as a more honest offering, and notes his growth toward a contemporary, layered sound. 
 
“The new stuff is quite a bit more personal than the old stuff I was writing. I used to write a lot about other people’s experiences.” 
 
Now, later in his music career, Yates feels ready to start telling his own story. Through his growth as an artist, his songs have taken on a more mature sound and spoken more personal truths. 
 
“I’d say [it’s] a little darker, a little more personal.” 
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