Murray A. Lightburn

Canadian Murray Lightburn's new work will inevitably be compared to those of "The Dears", who culminated in the indie pop music scene for almost a quarter of a century. Perhaps the word comparison is not entirely appropriate though, since "Hear Me Out" is very unlike the rest of the Dears' indie pop rock creations, that is of the singer and his wife, Natalia Yanchack. Lightburn's new solo album, despite its sound modification, is a deeply personal matter. Like he told us "...I decided to leave out the experimental part. I really wanted to render an album where the songs and the vocals were front and centre". Pop, soul, doo-wop and gospel sounds all from the 50's, 60's and 70's prevail and define his album, but what makes it stand out the most is the fact that he himself is the core and the main factor of this particular work.

His practically lonely presence on stage, as he likes to call it, other times accompanied by a quartet of strings, deliver the whole philosophy behind his album. It seems like he has written and recorded the songs in such a way that he could be able to support it all by himself and that to me sounds anything but selfish. I believe that for Lightburn, this may even be liberating, bring him closer to his songs and bring equivalent joy to a live audience. "Hear Me Out", beyond genres and categories, has a smooth and pleasant sound from the beginning and throughout its 35 min duration. "Belleville Blues" and "Changed My Ways" as forerunners for the album, were released at the end of 2018. The choice of the songs was wise since they accurately represent the sweetness of his new work. "Belleville Blues" (a small town near Ontario) in particular, that is stuck in his mind because it is a classic stop when travelling to Toronto, has a special, melodic feel to it with electric as well as acoustic guitars and even choir vocals.

Coming third in a row is "To The Top": a genuine pop/rock upbeat song, that is bound to become a trademark for the album. "I'm not Broken" although last but one keeps the magic alive for just a little longer. It begins with only a few notes in the acoustic guitar, then acquires a beautiful drum beat and just before the middle, at the chorus, the chords of the guitar and the saxophone turn it into a three-minute music miracle. In every version, Murray's singing is elegant, abundant in sensitivity and can indeed stay in the foreground and give a personal touch to "Hear Me Out". It is an album that does not need flashy and colourful covers or pretentious advertising tricks. Lightburn fearlessly exposes all his thoughts and feelings in ten songs that are the essence of his autobiography. Could he be looking for salvation or discover himself? Maybe so...

Βelow, read our discussion with Murray...

Hear Me Out (out 22/2 via Dangerbird Records)



The Basement: Hello Murray! Thank you for talking to us, it's really an honour. "Hear me Out" came out on 22 Feb. Are you satisfied with the final result? I think the media are after you.
I feel pretty great about how this album turned out. I wouldn’t really say that the media are after. I will say that the album is reaching people at its own pace and I’m grateful for that. I can’t expect it explode overnight and I have enough patience to watch things grow.


The Basement: Were you raised in Canada? Give us some more information about your childhood and how you got into music.
I was born in Montreal to immigrant parents from British Honduras. My father was a musician by trade and it said so on my birth certificate. He taught me a couple of melodies when I was younger but aside from that wasn’t involved much in my musical development. I wrote my first when I was around 5 years old. It was about how we were going to play soccer (football) at school that day. I tried to get a couple of kids to sing back up vocals but didn’t get very far. This is my origin story.


The Basement: Around 1995, you started The Dears along with Natalia. A band that dominated the indie pop music scene for nearly a quarter century. What were your ambitions back then?
My ambitions were purely art and music based and still are. To make the best thing I possibly can with whatever resources I have. Our first record was made for $1000 CAD. Our third album was made for about 250K. None of that made a difference to me. I write songs from a place that I’ll never understand. I hear music in a way that knows no bounds. I’ll always explore that place as far as I can go. It doesn’t cost anything.


The Basement: Your recordings with The Dears were on indie pop and mostly dark mood. What you had in mind emerging a solo carrier through rock and blues? How did that change cοme to your mind?
To me The Dears were never “indie.” What we were doing became known as “indie.” We were inspired by Motown, 60s and 70s orchestral pop, 80s alternative pop and even sometimes 90s grunge. All of those types of music were at one point very popular. A lot of our contemporaries embrace trends while we maintain a lot of traditions. I suppose you could call us experimental traditionalists. That partly extends into my solo work but I decided to leave out the experimental part. I really wanted to render an album where the songs and the vocals were front and centre.


The Basement: Tell us more about how you recorded "Hear Me Out". Your press release talks about "internal balance". What do you mean?
I’m not even sure what internal balance means! The approach I wanted to take with Hear Me Out was that I wanted it to be gentle and strong at the same time. That is incredibly hard to do. I wanted it to display a kind of masculinity that wasn’t steeped in any kind of machismo.


The Basement: Who was responsible for the production of the album?
I worked with my friend Howard Bilerman. He’s a world renowned and well respected producer. Google him.


The Basement: Why do you write music? We always like to ask this simple question to artists.
I think my creative brain is hardwired to make music. It’s not difficult for me to put something together. I think if my brain worked differently I’d be doing something else. But these are the cards I’ve been dealt, as they say.


The Basement: One of the sweetest and most gentle songs of your new album, is "Belleville Blues". Has this something to do with the local city near Quebec?
It’s a small town in Ontario. We pass through every time we drive to Toronto and sometimes we’ll stay there to break up the drive. I suppose it’s a metaphor; that if something is arduous, maybe take a break and refresh before moving forward.


The Basement: How's family life? I know you have a daughter named "Neptune" :)
I love my family more than anything on earth. Without them I’m nothing.


The Basement: Are you a good friend of Steve Morrisey's?
I think that if Morrissey ever called me to do something for him I probably would. But that’s just the kind of guy I am. I am always ready to be anyone’s friend.


The Basement: Is it true that you use to tour with just a guitar and sometimes accompanied by a quartet of strings? Why do you do this?
It always comes down to whether I can afford strings. I can almost never afford it. But if I had my way I would only perform with a quartet.


The Basement: Do you have any favourite contemporary artists?
I love my friends' bands the list is too long but a few are still Stars, BSS, Metric, I like Feist a lot and my friend La Force. Recently I bought a My Brightest Diamond record. I also love Danko Jones. There are many more names I could put here that are just escaping me right now.


The Basement: What's next on your touring schedule? Do you have some Europe dates too?
I have lots of dates coming up. Just go to


The Basement: Make a wish for tomorrow.
For everyone to be happy and healthy and having a great day...


* Special thanks to Kiki Silkoglou for the extra help in making this interview.


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