Putting together his debut solo album, a Timmins musician experienced a writing process he's never had before. A party this weekend is celebrating the album that's close to Brad Martel's heart.
This Saturday, April 23, there's a release party for We Meet Again at the Airport Hotel. The show will include original songs, as well as '70s rock anthems, '90s jams, bangers of the 2000s and more.
Born and raised in Timmins, the 36-year-old left town after high school. Martel moved back in September and is running a home studio.
“Moving back to Timmins has been actually helpful because it was really competitive in Ottawa. So I had this idea to come back here where it didn’t seem like anyone was really doing it and that seems to have paid off so far,” he said.
Martel started playing music as a teenager. While he was a drummer in the bands he's played with for the past 15 years, he always kept up with playing guitar and singing in the background.
We Meet Again was released in January.
The main guitars were recorded in the summer before he left Ottawa and the finishing touches were added in Timmins.
“It’s actually the best and most volume response that I’ve ever gotten, which is appropriate because this is an album that’s really close to my heart. Maybe there’s something about it when you’re singing and it’s more of an intimate album, it’s really important to me and it’s been a really good response and it looks like the show is going to build onto that,” he said.
Putting the album together helped Martel stay musical over the last couple of years and cope with a huge personal loss.
It's hinted at in the art on the album cover — with a smiling Martel embracing his partner of over three years, who died last year. The album, he said, is an honour and tribute to her.
Two songs, Werewolf and I'll Try, were written with her in mind.
Writing I'll Try was a process he's never experienced before.
"It actually took about as long as it takes to listen to the song to write it. It came out in five minutes, all the words," he recalled.
"Usually it takes me a lot longer, I really play with things for a while before I call it finished. I obviously can’t help but think that she was involved in making that so easy for me. It’s a song that a lot of people have reached out to me that they identify with or that it moved them. Some people share with me that it made them very emotional, which you kind of hate to think that you’re making people cry ‘cause usually with music you want to get them dancing or something, but at the same time it says a lot that you can move someone like that. I’m grateful to hear that from people."
For this weekend's launch party, Martel's aim is to entertain.
He wants to play for about two hours and has curated a setlist that includes up-tempo cover songs through the decades.
“I really tried to keep the audience in mind and pick a little something for everybody so that it would be hard to say that it’s too much of one thing and not enough of another,” he said.
It'll be his first show since last summer and he's excited to be back in front of a live audience in Timmins, where he hasn't really played since he was a teenager.
He's also inspired by the vision the new owners of the Airport Hotel have for the historic building.
Entry to the show is pay what you can.
Buy We Meet Again online here.