As summer approaches, Toronto singer/songwriter Bryce Thomas is getting into the spirit by sharing “Young Lovers,” the second single from his new album Across The Neuro Seas. A bright and breezy folk-rocker that captures the thrill of a blossoming new relationship, “Young Lovers” is accompanied by a video that brings the song's cinematic qualities to life.
Ironically, Bryce wrote “Young Lovers” and most of the other 12 tracks for his fourth full-length album during a month-long span in the spring of 2020, just as pandemic restrictions were taking hold. He credits the creative surge not only to lockdown anxiety, but also to a five-year recording hiatus as his family expanded. Bryce made full use of his time to record the album himself on his laptop, with the tracks later mixed by Josh Bowman and mastered by Joao Carvalho.
Musically, Bryce didn’t hold back, performing all vocals, guitars and keyboard tracks along with a variety of other instruments, only making exceptions for drums and some bass— performed remotely by Marito Marques and Chris Monster, respectively—a horn section, and additional vocals by his wife Lisanne. The album’s overall labour-of-love aesthetic extends to Thomas’s lyrics as well, from his meditation on the passage of time heard on the opening track and first single “Perpetual Motion Machines” to the almost Zen-like ballad “We Shall Be Bound,” which brings things full circle with some fortuitous help from a songbird who managed to get on tape.
“I’d sneak away to record whenever the house was quiet, which was challenging when you’re part of a family of five, plus three dogs, all stuck at home,” Bryce says. “I knew I wanted this to be a true album in the sense of all the songs relating to each other in some way. For me, the common storytelling thread is love blooming and love lost, and I took a lot of songwriting inspiration from early Elton John, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Cat Stevens albums.”
When asked to describe his musical evolution, Bryce gives a straightforward answer: “Long.” Making music has been a part of his life since early childhood, and he became an active figure in the Toronto indie scene of the 1990s. During that period, Bryce was a regular on Toronto stages and a passionate supporter of numerous Canadian singer/songwriters of that era. Across The Neuro Seas pays tribute to some of them with the song “Up Around The Bend,” incorporating lyrics by Hawksley Workman, Joel Plaskett, Sarah Slean and Danny Michel.
The final results on Across The Neuro Seas clearly show that he made the right choice. While there are sure to be many “what I did during my pandemic lockdown” records on the horizon, Bryce Thomas’s Across The Neuro Seas bears all the hallmarks of a true folk-pop auteur, with its timeless sound sure to remain relevant long after we’re allowed to once again get close to our loved ones.