Scott Merritt

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If the detOUr home sounds at times like a grown man's recollection of one of his favorite spots in the world, it's because Scott Merritt's first album in more than a decade is often that.

"I was trying to catch the feeling of a place like Port Dover or Long Point, Ontario, around the last day of August," explains Merritt. "A short, beat-up beach, everyone gone home, only a couple people left on the sand, kind of savoring the last of the day. I got to see that strip from a lot of different angles."

Juxtaposing the snapshots of a fish bowl town are forward, experimental beats. In the spirit of Beck or David Grey, this accomplished multi-instrumentalist binds folk and technology with wonderful results.

"Temporary Tattoo," Merritt's poetic spin on the detour home from the summer midway, is anchored by the purr of a beat box. The midway reappears on "Swallowin' the Key" which, when set to a fuzz guitar, becomes as surreal as a meander through the House of Mirrors, while an overdriven vocal mic gives the road-trip song "Dragonfly" a more futuristic, psychedelic vibe. A sense of resigned optimism underscores many of the tracks.

Long Point and Port Dover are beach resort towns that sit on Lake Erie, visible across the water from Ohio. Merritt grew up in Brantford, just 30 miles away, and after three decades of making music, hasn't strayed particularly far. While still a kid in the 70's, he began working out his musical kinks with various garage bands around town. When the desire to exercise his nascent songwriting abilities took over, Merritt struck out on his own.

By the early 80's he had two independent releases under his belt. His first, Desperate Cosmetics (1979), was produced with the help of a then unknown Hamilton engineer named Daniel Lanois. It was the subsequent Serious Interference though, in 1982, that brought him the attention of Canada's Duke Street Records, which also released the Juno nominated follow up Gravity is Mutual (produced by Roma Baran of Laurie Anderson fame) in 1986. In 1990 Merritt moved to the American label IRS for his last studio release, Violet and Black produced by Frank Zappa alumnus Arthur Barrow. From there, Merritt took a step back to concentrate on family life and his growing interest in production and engineering.

"I write as often as I can between production jobs," explains Merritt, making reference to The Cottage, his studio in Guelph. Some of the artists drawn to Merritt's environs have included Ian Tamblyn, The Grievous Angels, Meg Lunney and Juno award winner Fred Eaglesmith.

For the detOUr home, Merritt has enlisted an impressive array of musical guests: drummers Peter Von Althen (The Cash Brothers, Starling) and Gary Craig (Bruce Cockburn), guitarists Ian Lefeuvre (Starling) and Bill Dillon (Robbie Robertson) as well as keyboard player Richard Bell (The Band, Janis Joplin) and multi instrumentalist Jeff Bird (The Cowboy Junkies) among others.

"All this great stuff can happen on a detour home," says Merritt when asked about the album title, "including the roof at the end of it."