The Deep Dark Woods emerge from the woodwork with Yarrow

By in Culture

Saskatoon’s seminal alt-country group the Deep Dark Woods is returning to the Canadian soundscape after a four-year hiatus with their forthcoming release, titled Yarrow, which is the culmination of years mastering the craft of music.

The Deep Dark Woods was established in 2005, founded by Chris Mason, Burke Barlow, Lucas Goetz and Ryan Boldt. After twelve years — and copious lineup changes, a break and a subsequent return — the band is now more or less conducted under Boldt’s lead.

Following Jubilee, their bombastic 2013 release, Yarrow’s singles set it up as a quieter, more toned-down record. It will drop on Oct. 27 from Six Shooter Records. The album even includes artistry from Clayton Linthicum and Kacy Anderson, two Saskatchewanians who comprise the duo Kacy & Clayton.

In anticipation of Yarrow, and the Deep Dark Woods show on Oct. 20 at the Broadway Theatre, the Sheaf spoke to Boldt about the new album, what to expect at their show and the band’s creative process in general.

Yarrow will be the Deep Dark Wood’s sixth studio album.

Boldt believes that the influences for Yarrow’s murder ballads — like “Drifting on a Summer’s Night” — come from Harry Smith’s American Anthology of Folk Music and the Carter Family. On the opposite side of the ballad spectrum, Boldt says that Percy Sledge has helped him with the record’s love songs, such as “The Winter Has Passed.”

Boldt believes that differences between Yarrow and Jubilee come from a natural personal development.

“I think the difference in the songwriting is that I am older, smarter and have been able to consume for influences,” Boldt said. “I was 29 when I wrote Jubilee, and I was 34 when I wrote Yarrow, so hopefully, I have matured as an artist.”

For Boldt, the writing process is very similar to that of other craftspeople in that it simply takes time to hone.

“Not everyone can be a musician. It takes a process of studying and practicing music for one to be successful at it,” Boldt said. “Bricklayers have to go to other bricklayers to learn how to lay bricks — not everyone can do that immediately.”

Boldt traces his drive and passion for his musicianship to the some of the greatest singer-songwriters of the past half- century.

“The greats like Neil Young and Bob Dylan have sifted through records, so they can sound like they do — they didn’t get amazing over night. That was the mentality I took [regarding] musicianship,” Boldt said.

Although Boldt has left Saskatoon and is now situated in Victoria, B.C., Bridge City remains an important place for him and the band, as their hometown shows are always great experiences. Boldt reflects on one particular show at Louis’ Pub.

“It must of been the first or second of November, and we were on the release tour of Jubilee. It was packed with people — probably around 350 to 400 people — and [we fed] off the energy of the crowd. It was incredible.”

Soon to return to Saskatoon, Boldt provides some expectations for the Deep Dark Woods’ show on Broadway.

“You should expect a bunch of new songs, but also, you should expect to hear all of our more well-known songs — but we will focus on new songs. Our new band — it sounds incredible. It should be a bigger band and something special for the people of Saskatoon,” Boldt said.

The Deep Dark Woods is playing the Broadway Theatre on Oct. 20. Tickets are $27 and are available at the Broadway Theatre or on their website.

Jordan Stovra

Photo: Six Shooter Records / Supplied