Album titles can be tricky and elusive things, but for the Toronto quintet Tin Star Orphans and their new disc, yonder, the answer was obvious: just title the album after the former the name of the band.
“When we decided to change our name to Tin Star Orphans, we were worried that all the work we’d done to build up the name Yonder would be lost,” says frontman Zachary Bennett. “This solved that problem, and it’s also a nice salute to our long-time friends and supporters.”
The album, which critics compare to everyone from grandiose indie-rockers Arcade Fire to alt-country veterans Wilco, was recorded in 2007 at Chemical Sound in Toronto — a studio co-owned and operated by producer Dean Marino (Born Ruffians, Ruby Coast, Tokyo Police Club).
After working with them twice on record as co-producer — on the album, and on the 2005 Jesus Freaks EP recorded at a cottage north of Havelock, Ontario, Marino joined the live incarnation of Tin Star Orphans as the band’s lead guitarist. The band’s current lineup also includes bassist/vocalist Travis Ferris, drummer Johnny Rowe, and multi-instrumentalist Todd Harrison.
Originally released independently by the band (under the title Skywalk to Crescent Town), the album and Tin Star Orphans were picked up in December 2008 by Canadian independent label Sparks Music. “We’re very excited to be working with Sparks,” says Bennett. “They’re a diverse label with a real dedication to promoting Canadian music.”
Formed in 2003, Bennett and company have steadfastly built a rock-solid reputation for writing inspiring roots-tinged anthems alongside heart-wrenching ballads. For the recording sessions that produced yonder, Marino and Bennett worked closely as co-producers, capturing and assembling sounds and shaping the album into its final form. Featuring string and horn sections, pedal steel, banjo, harmonium, and even a musical saw, the album is a blend of acoustic-driven romps and sonically gripping love songs. Using a volatile mixture of both humour and humility, Bennett’s songs paint a stark and sometimes frightening portrait of life, love and loss, while blurring the line between reality and fiction.
Tin Star Orphans have shared the stage with such artists as Rock Plaza Central, Mandibles, Key Witness, and Boys Who Say No, as well as Bry Webb of The Constantines.