Wednesday, February 1, 2023

It is a Dark and Dirty World for Ted Simmons

The Dartmouth-based singer-songwriter's latest album, Dark and Dirty World, is available now.

Dartmouth-based singer-songwriter Ted Simmons‘s latest album, Dark and Dirty World, is available now. He celebrates the release on February 17 in a show at Sourwood Cider in Halifax.

From end to end, the album’s content goes from the macro, a global context of turmoil and struggle, to the micro, an individual context of internal turmoil and struggle.

In this Q&A, we learn more about the artist and the album.

You can find out more about Ted Simmons and his new album on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, Bandcamp and Apple Music.

This interview has been edited.

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I am originally from Newfoundland, but I currently call Dartmouth, Nova Scotia home. I live with my son down by a lake. We spend our time together, going out in our canoe, going on road trips, camping, fishing, going to the beach, and swimming in the lake or the ocean.

When not working on music, I can be found in my garden; I am constantly updating the landscape design with different flowers, trees and shrubs. I also grow food out there, which I use in cooking and making preserves. This brings me to another big pastime, cooking. The highlight of my culinary prowess is BBQ. I am currently on a quest to master the Texas style, and my friends are often the beneficiaries of the results of this grand experiment.

The sounds and stories of the south captured my imagination as a child. The first time I heard blues music, I wasn’t very old and had no idea what it meant, but it captivated me. From blues to country, folk to rock and roll, and R&B to contemporary singer/songwriter, and with influences like Muddy Waters, Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and The Band, with powerful, poignant, pretty and sometimes politically driven lyrics I have a diversity of songs that cover the spectrum of the Americana experience. My lyrics range from topical social commentary to fun and humorously ridiculous tales to the poetry of love, loss, loneliness, and longing.

How do you describe Dark and Dirty World?

Dark and Dirty World is a collection of songs meant to tell a complete story of a character searching for happiness, acceptance and a secure place in the world, as well as coping with grief and hardship in a sometimes humorous or satirical way. It is in the vein of Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks/Slow Train Coming, Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever/Wildflowers, or Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run/Ghost of Tom Joad.

Why did you choose Dark and Dirty World as the album title?

Dark and Dirty World is the name of the first song on the album, so I decided to make it the title, making it the title track. It is an epic journey. It is intended to be an unapologetic commentary on the planet’s destruction due to corporate greed and political corruption. However, it ends on a somewhat positive note that not all hope is lost and that a movement of people is pushing back against the power base that is desperately trying to hold on to the status quo. It is the opening of the movie, so to speak.

The rest of the album takes parts of the multiple layers that make up the track and deep dive into the ideas of heartache, sadness, loneliness, determination and optimism, with some laughter and joy thrown in because that is real life.

What was the inspiration for the album? Is there a theme?

Ted Simmons's Dark & Dirty World is available now.
Ted Simmons’s Dark & Dirty World is available now.

There is not a singular inspiration per se, more like motivation. I have struggled with finding what my particular approach to recording is.

In my previous albums, it always felt like I didn’t have a firm grasp on what I was doing, and it felt uncomfortable. So, I came up with what I call “shooting hoops” I would get an idea for a song, figure out the basics, and then think about who I know would work great on this particular track and then we would all share ideas and put the song together. After doing that enough times, I started to have an album. Then I thought about what the overall theme of the album should be, and the songs that were recorded were going a certain way thematically, and then I wrote the title track, and it all came together.

There are two overall recurring themes. First is the displacement of the working class and the corruption and greed that has spawned the current climate of widespread unrest. Second is the emotional struggle that accompanies a failed relationship and a longing for love, companionship, and a sense of belonging that is seemingly out of reach.

From end to end, the album’s content goes from the macro, a global context of turmoil and struggle, to the micro, an individual context of internal turmoil and struggle.

What is your favourite song to perform off the album, and why?

In a funny twist of fate, there are some songs on the album that I have never actually performed live. For example, dark and Dirty World and Susanna have very elaborate arrangements, but I never performed them all together with all the people. That said, my favourite to perform is Rainy Day April because it is just a simple blues rock-inspired jam that rips to the point of catharsis.

What’s next for Ted Simmons?

Right now, I am working on trying to do a solo tour I am calling The Dark and Dirty World Tour around Nova Scotia and possibly the Maritimes. So after the album is out, I want to get back into the studio and shoot some hoops, and I have a few new song ideas I want to work on.

In addition, I am working on a video for the title track Dark and Dirty World. I should have that finished and ready to release sometime in February, and then I have an idea for a video for Susanna, so I plan to start work on that after I get the other one finished.

You can find out more about Ted Simmons and his new album on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, Bandcamp and Apple Music.

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