Yes—three letters form one small word capable of enormous impact, as well as a proclamation Michael Bernard Fitzgerald (MBF for short) felt fitting for the title of his latest album.
“It's meant to announce an arrival, or it's an exclamation or it's a positive affirmative,” Fitzgerald says over the phone, on a rare day off before getting back on the road to support the album's release. “That word being three letters kind of encompasses all that I want to say with the music on the record.”
The melting-pot of sounds behind Yes transcend folk, rock, pop and world music, creating something as all-encompassing as its title, with songs ranging from the groove-heavy swing of “Firecracker” to thoughtful, expressive ballads like “Follow.” Yes could also be described as an exhalation of relief and celebration, considering it's been two years in the making and a process that's led Fitzgerald through an intense learning process of his own.
Following Fitzgerald parting ways with his Calgary-based label Load Music (he's now on Trauma2), he found himself going back and forth to Hollywood to complete the record with the help of Brian West and Jon Levine, formerly of the Philosopher Kings.
“It's the first time with my songwriting that I was sent back to the drawing board by someone else other than myself, where they say, 'You know, I don't get this verse or I think you can do better on this line,'” Fitzgerald says. “I think that can be good to have someone that's not a 'no' person, but not a 'yes' person—someone that's actively trying to develop what it is that you do or challenge you to find that within yourself.”
The most constructive criticism can be difficult to swallow at times, and Fitzgerald admits even someone with no ego can feel the hurt in it for a moment, but he knew the critiques could only further his writing. He says there have been instances in the past where he's listened to an album after it's completed and wished he'd done things differently, but Yes is another story.
“When you're independent and you're down there and you're piecing it all together … that professional support system's not there,” he says. “If you get sent back to the drawing board you feel kind of by yourself, because you're spending whatever you can to be down there and to be in the studio and it can feel trying at times. But you end up having a record where you don't feel there's a word out of place.”
Wed, Oct 2 (8 pm)
With Michael Franti &
Winspear Centre, $52