Field Guide is a weaver of worlds. Built around his inviting voice and wrapped in warm textures, Field Guide (aka Dylan MacDonald)’s self-titled sophomore full-length (out October 28th via Birthday Cake) builds his most engaging world yet. It lives in a place between darkness and hopefulness with unshakeable melodies at its heart. “Melody is what makes words fall out of my mouth. It’s disarming. When I find a melody that represents my internal world, I drop my guard. I allow the words to appear out of thin air without judgement. A lot of these songs came to life that way. I wasn’t trying to make anything, but the songs became a home for words that I wasn’t yet ready to write on the page, ”MacDonald says.
The past few years haven’t allowed for much escape from our interior worlds. There’s been a lot to move through, and many things can be true at once. This album lives at the sometimes-tense intersection of those truths–loving someone dearly while being pulled toward something new, feeling joy in the melancholy, a gratitude for deep friendship and an uncertainty of one’s place in it.
In celebration of the self-titled album announcement, the first single has been released “Leave You Lonely,” along with an accompanying video. Dylan explains of the song, “”Leave You Lonely is about devotion. It’s about fighting complacency. Having doubts is human, but swallowing those feelings can often lead us into a haze of disconnection. It’s rare to hold only one feeling at a time and I’ve been learning to embrace the myriad of emotions that come with being alive, and in love.”
“This video was made en route from Sierra Vista Arizona to San Diego California. Despite the fact that ‘Leave You Lonely’ was recorded during one of Manitoba’s coldest winters in decades, the desert seemed to have a place in the story of the song. The intense heat made us move slow. That lethargy paired with the choice of a slow frame rate made me feel as though I could move my body to the music without feeling as inhibited as I normally might. Filming this video felt a lot like listening back to a demo of a new song, or even mixes of the final recording — I’ll often wander around the house or outside on a walk feeling pleased to have accurately captured my interior world in song.”
The album is also alive with the people and places that surrounded its creation. Vocals and acoustic guitars were recorded near Riding Mountain National Park in a woodstove-heated cabin during one of Manitoba’s coldest winters in years. Bass and drums were tracked at Breakglass Studios in Montreal, a room that already felt familiar from falling in love with the records of tour-mate Leif Vollebekk. Final overdubbing took place at Monarch Studios in Vancouver surrounded by trusted engineers and friends. And constant inspiration was found in his circle of Winnipeg creators working away on their own projects. Like The Big Pink house–Boy Golden, Slow Spirit, Roman Clarke, Kris Ulrich and others dropped in on each other to share demos and often lend their sounds to each other’s albums.
Beyond his hometown, Field Guide has had the opportunity to meet some heroes and new friends. He’s supported Leif Vollebekk, Bahamas, SYML, Wild Rivers, JP Saxe and Penny & Sparrow on their tours this year. He’s built a legion of fans online and on the road. So, while this is a solo album that invites the listener inside Field Guide’s inner monologue world, it really is meant to be lived in together. “I made these songs into a world for me to live in,” says Dylan. “They are dark and hopeful and have helped me to figure some things out. For the past couple of years I’ve maintained a pretty consistent habit of journaling. Putting words on paper is difficult and I’ve gained a new respect for those who are able to do so in a seemingly effortless fashion. Melody is what makes words fall out of my mouth. It’s disarming. When I find a melody that represents my internal world, I drop my guard. I allow the words to appear out of thin air without judgement. A lot of these songs came to life that way. I wasn’t trying to make anything, but the songs became a home for words that I wasn’t yet ready to write on the page. And now, the mix of discomfort, excitement and pride in sharing this album. These are the truest, rawest songs that I’ve ever written. I’ve never felt so sure about something I’ve made before. And now, it’s yours.”