Murray A. Lightburn of The Dears Shares Video for New Song “Once Upon a Time In Montréal” | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, February 25th, 2024  

Murray A. Lightburn of The Dears Shares Video for New Song “Once Upon a Time In Montréal”

Once Upon a Time In Montréal Due Out March 31 via Dangerbird

Feb 22, 2023 Photography by Richmond Lam
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Murray A. Lightburn, frontman of Montréal’s The Dears, is releasing a new solo album, Once Upon a Time In Montréal, on March 31 via Dangerbird. Now he has shared its second single, title track “Once Upon a Time In Montréal,” via a music video. The song features a rousing saxophone solo by Frank Lozano. The production team at 4-VU created the video. Watch it below.

Previously Lightburn shared the album’s first single, “Dumpster Gold,” via a music video. “Dumpster Gold” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Once Upon a Time In Montréal is inspired by the 2020 death of Lightburn’s father, who was previously a jazz saxophonist before finding religion. Lightburn’s father was originally from Belize and moved to Montréal to reconnect with his childhood sweetheart. Lightburn’s parents were married for 56 years, until his father passed away in April 2020 in a Quebec nursing home (he had been living with Alzheimer’s for a while).

Lightburn had this to say about “Once Upon a Time In Montréal” in a press release: “After getting an education in Jamaica and England, my mom got a job in Montréal as a nurse. My father was living in New York. They had dated back in Belize and reconnected years later in New York. My father didn’t really want to leave for Montréal, but he did. And it was hard for him: the harsh winters, the language barrier, the color of his skin. He was a skilled musician but that was barely going to keep the lights on—never mind feed a growing family. His lack of formal education, and his lack of French, limited his opportunities. Nevertheless, he just wanted to be with her. So he figured out a way, and that’s what his life was mostly about, I think—what I’ve deduced. Maybe there’s way more to it and that’s the romantic version, but it’s a version at least I can understand. Nothing else computes. My parents stayed married for 56 years.”

Lightburn says that his father was “almost a complete stranger” to him. “I could almost count the conversations we had, and none of them were very meaningful,” he says. “I had to deduce that our happy moments were listening to Expos games together. I never knew how he felt about my career or the things I’d achieved—all of which I got from him.”

Howard Bilerman (Leonard Cohen, The Weather Station, Godspeed You! Black Emperor) produced Once Upon a Time in Montréal, which a previous press release said finds Lightburn in “full crooner mode, distilling the passion and intensity of The Dears into gentle arrangements that feature an orchestral section, drawing on late-’60s, early-’70s folk/jazz/pop: Dionne Warwick, Nick Drake, Bill Withers, Serge Gainsbourg, Al Green, etc. While the influences might be obvious, the end result is singular and without peer.”

Once Upon a Time in Montréal features Dears drummer Jeff Luciani and some Montréal jazz players, chief among them is Frank Lozano. Lightburn says Lozano’s sax solo on the title track would especially please his late father. “I knew it was a 400-foot home run,” says Lightburn on his reaction upon hearing the solo. “I knew it was something that would hold. I knew also at that moment how much my dad would love this record. Even if he never told me, I know that it would be on repeat in his car if he was still with us and driving around. That was my motivation—to make something I know he would love. It’s not indie rock, you know?”

Lightburn’s previous solo album, Hear Me Out, came out in 2019 via Dangerbird. The Dears’ last album, Lovers Rock, came out in 2020 via Dangerbird. The band are led by Lightburn and his wife Natalia Yanchak.

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