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First Play: David Myles, Real Love

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Holly Gordon

Singer. Songwriter. Polished performer. Juno winner for rap recording of the year. If anything, David Myles excels at a lot of things. And with Real Love, the Fredericton-born, Halifax-based artist’s 10th studio album, Myles has turned his focus to ’50s rock ‘n’ roll influences, coupling his trademark love songs with Johnny Cash twang and Elvis swagger for a dancier — though still hopelessly romantic — sound.

“[Real Love is] a record I’ve always wanted to make … an upbeat, danceable, fun record that harkens back to the early days of rock ‘n’ roll,” Myles said in a statement.

Whether it’s through the strings’ implicit accusation on “Night After Night” (hinting at an affair before Myles even sings a note) or the showmanship on “Night & Day;” the frenetic energy on the title track or the horns on “Look at Me,” it’s clear: this album is meant to be heard onstage, amid a crowd of hand-clapping fans and toe-tapping converts. Which is fitting, considering Myles recorded the recorded the songs with touring band members Kyle Cunjak, Alan Jeffires and Joshua Van Tassel (adding pianist Isabel Thériault in studio, too).

“If You Want Tonight” and “Crazy to Leave” are two songs that get Myles’ trademark, heart-to-heart treatment: the former a lightly strummed promise nestled between a horn-and-string reprise and the driving drumbeat of “Cry, Cry, Cry,” and the latter a slowly built piano ballad of regret that serves as the album’s closer.

It’s a sombre way to finish a record that bursts through the door so energetically with opener “Night & Day,” but that’s what Myles does best: his songwriting can take you through a '50s-inspired barn burner or a crooning love song, and you'll stay for it all.

Real Love will be released Sept. 15. Pre-order it here, and get all his tour dates here.

Listen to an interview with David Myles on East Coast Music Hour on Radio 1 this Saturday, Sept. 9, at 5 p.m. on the East Coast ( 5:30 NT).