First Listen: Penny Blacks, ‘Long Lights’

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‘Long Lights’, the new album from Penny Blacks is available on CD and on digital and streaming services September 29.

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Saint John’s Penny Blacks return with a new album this month. Long Lights is the band’s first full-length release since their 2011 debut, Harbour. Over the past six years Penny Blacks have released a number of EPs, the most recent being 2015’s stripped-down, low-fi collection of songs, Moleskine Weather.

Penny Blacks began as a solo endeavor by long-time Saint John musician Jason Ogden, but the project quickly evolved to become a full blown, roots rock collective featuring several of Ogden’s friends and past musical collaborators. On the group’s latest recording, Ogden is joined by Chris Braydon (lead guitar), Clinton Charlton (drums/vocals), Adam Kierstead (bass) and Ali Leonard (violin). 

“Penny Blacks started as a solo project,” says Ogden.  “As I began to play shows, I was surprised to encounter people who not only dug what I was doing, but were interested in playing these songs.  So, over the years, friends have joined in and we’ve made Penny Blacks, the band, its own thing.”

Ogden remains the group’s principal songwriter, though he credits his bandmates for taking his ideas to the next level and in many ways, defining the Penny Blacks sound.

“I still write the songs in the same way, usually on an acoustic guitar in my apartment or whatever,” he said. “I start playing them at solo shows, sort of feeling my way around them. It’s funny, but I always think of the songs at this stage like little kids – bare, innocent, direct, no filter. Once I get them to a place where I get the arrangement – the structure – down, I will take it to the band. At that point, those guys usually do something with it that pretty much blows my mind and makes that song sound, like, fully grown. Like, the adult version of the song with all its clothes on; all the layers, and all the little complexities and personality sort of on top of and intermingling with that bare, honest spark that started it all. It becomes its own thing, but at the same time – it’s the same song.”

Long Lights will be officially released September 29. The supporting tour will see the full band performing dates throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario.

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Penny Blacks’ Album Release Tour:

Sept 29 – The Carleton | Halifax NS
Sept 30 – The Barn | Mahone Bay NS 
Oct 6 – The Capital | Fredericton | NB
Oct 7 – Water St Dinner Theatre | Saint John NB
Oct 27 – Ducky’s | Sackville NB
Oct 28 – House Show | Sydney NS
1 Nov – TBA (QC / ON)
Nov 2 – The Dakota |Toronto ON
Nov 3 – Bar Robo | Ottawa ON 
Nov 4 – Grumpy’s | Montreal
Nov 25 – Parkindale Hall | Elgin NB

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