In 2020, when the estate of Gord Downie released Away is Mine near the three-year anniversary of his passing, it was promised that there was more to come from the late singer.
At the time, the discussion was an album recorded with Dale Morningstar and his band, The Dinner is Ruined, which was completed before the Away is Mine sessions in 2017, but there was no indication of when we might see or hear that project.
Guess what: There was something else in the works too.
On Thursday, the Tragically Hip and Bob Rock announced the release of a song, “Lustre Parfait,” before a full album comes out next year. The news came three days after the fifth anniversary of Downie’s death and was a surprise to many.
But this project had been teased a year ago: In an interview with George Strombolopolous, Rock said he’d been working on 14 songs with Downie and promised that a new single would be released on February 6, 2022 — Downie’s birthday. Clearly there’s been some delay, but the new song is now here to enjoy.
It’s peppy and jangly, bright and toe-tapping, with just enough horn to make it surprisingly jazzy in a Gord-kinda way.
Of course, it’s not the first time Downie, or the Hip, worked with Rock: He worked with the band on both World Container and We Are The Same. After the second album, Downie asked Rock if he had any music Downie could write lyrics to; “Lustre Parfait” we get the result of that personal and immediate collaboration.
“First and foremost, Gord was my friend, and having the opportunity to work with him on these songs was one of the biggest highlights of my professional life,” says Rock, famously the producer responsible for Metallica’s Black album among a host of other high-profile, and highly successful, recordings. “I am grateful that I got to witness his genius in such close proximity.”
There’s no word on when the rest of the 13 songs will be released, just that the joint album is due sometime next year. For a project that was a decade in the making, what’s a few more months?
Until then, give “Lustre Parfait” a listen. It’s a change from some of the more somber work Downie released following the last Hip tour in 2016, including Secret Path, his tribute to Chanie Wenjack and the thousands of children stolen from their families and lost in residential schools, and Introduce Yerself, an album released just days after Downie’s death.