Young veteran musician David Celia is one of Toronto’s most experienced independent artists and busiest working musicians, who’s consistently built an audience across Canada and is even more successful in Europe, where he's regularly toured for the past 8 years.
As a musician, Celia is a triple threat: He’s a thoroughly enchanting singer-songwriter; a sublime guitar virtuoso, who’s plucked his strings behind such high-profile acts as Ian & Sylvia, Andy Kim (The Archies) and Quartette, as well as such high-cred indie artists as Mike Evin and Ariana Gillis; and he’s a brilliant arranger of songs, crafting dynamic, evocative settings for his works.
Nowhere are these multiple talents more evident than on his new, third album, I Tried, which builds on the successes of his previous releases (2003’s Organica and 2006’s This Isn’t Here). I Tried is a thoughtful, funny, sensitive collection of bright, sharp original songs that owes as much to Beatlesque pop as it does to contemporary singer-songwriter traditions.
I Tried is an eclectic and wide-ranging set of songs, encompassing (and mastering) all manner of sound: from the straight-ahead rock n’ roll of “Instant Puppy Love” to the whimsical ukulele ditty “Séverine”; from the brassy, sunny-day pop that is “Sergio” to the sensitive acoustic-guitar-with-string-quartet balladry of “I Tried”; from the Beatles-with-sitar Eastern mysticism of “Running Out of Time” to the tongue-in-cheek country novelty “I’m Not Texan”; from the Burt Bacharach horn charts of “Wishful Thinking” to the Beach Boys harmony vocals of “Marcus.” For each song, Celia does whatever works best, and the results are completely captivating.
Just as the song styles range widely on I Tried, so does the content. “Sevérine” and “Sergio” are quick studies of characters that exist on the most pleasant fringes of what we consensually agree is “reality”; “Wishful Thinking” and “I Tried” deal with the unavoidable struggles and stresses that occur inside of a domestic relationship; “Bug’s Apocalypse” and “Running Out of Time” examine how human beings can get caught up in the mundane details of their daily lives while missing the bigger picture; “Crush” and “Life is a Dream” document both the hurt and the happiness, respectively, of childhood; meanwhile, “I’m Not Texan” and “Instant Puppy Love” are more lighthearted distractions. As songwriting legend Gordon Lightfoot once said to Celia: “I like the sentiment in your songs.”
The musicians who helped Celia craft I Tried include Joan Besen (Prairie Oyster) on keyboards, Russ Boswell and Chris Banks on bass, Don Kerr (Ron Sexsmith, Rheostatics) and Cleave Anderson (early Blue Rodeo) on drums, Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams) on guitar, Mia Sheard on backing vocals, Mike Olsen on Cello (Arcade Fire) and Ben Mink (k.d. lang, Feist) on violin. The album was produced by Celia himself, mixed by John Switzer (Jane Siberry, Andrew Cash) and mastered by Joao Carvalho.
Celia will release I Tried with a concert at Toronto’s Hugh’s Room on June 10, featuring his core band, as well as string and brass sections, a ukulele and a flute – the better to reproduce the eclectic sounds of the album in an onstage setting. He will then tour the U.K. again in June – including an appearance at the prestigious Glastonbury Festival, A Canada Day celebratory concert in London’s Trafalgar Square (alongside Sarah Harmer, Hawksley Workman and more) -and will tour Germany in August. A cross-Canada tour is set for October, and the release of a new music video will be timed to coincide with it.