An odyssey is punctuated by definitive moments of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The hero succeeds through either extreme to emerge on the other side, wiser and stronger, continuing on until the next elation or depression is encountered. It is at one of these moments that Jon-Rae Fletcher has come to release his latest full-length album “OH, MARIA”.
“OH, MARIA” follows the story of a soul torn apart by betrayal and longing, a man coming to terms with his role in the playing out of causal circumstance and his eventual redemption in the acceptance of time and change. “OH, MARIA” contains ten stripped down, confessional songs that are both compelling and euphoric, punctuated by heartache and the strength needed to overcome loss in these hard times. With the help of old friends, Colin Stewart (Hive Studio), Darcy Hancock (Ladyhawk), as well as new friends Kathryn Calder (New Pornographers, Immaculate Machine), Crystal Denham and Denver Rawson, Jon-Rae set about capturing a unique recording of a unique concept. To record these songs, Jon-Rae wanted the feeling of a specific time and place to be present in each of the songs. To achieve this, the album was rehearsed one day and recorded in a turn-of-the-century living room the next, favouring first takes and no overdubs.
Jon-Rae Fletcher – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Crystal Dee Denham – Electric Bass
Darcy Hancock – Electric Guitar
Kathryn Calder – Acoustic Piano
Denver Rawson – Trombone
Colin Stewart – Engineer
“Oh, Jon-Rae. Throughout his various incarnations, with or sans the River, Fletcher has proved to be a timeless songwriter. Whether he’s lust driven or heartbroken, Jon-Rae gets into the depths of the soul and narrates his findings with the sentiment of a preacher’s son and the conviction of the devil. Religious connotations flow through Fletcher’s work, but this time around it’s not personal salvation he’s seeking, rather the forgiveness of a long gone askew. The opening track, Maria, sets the tone of the album with a simple rise of an acoustic guitar and trombone. Fletcher’s Maria, whether figurative or metaphorical, embodies the yearnings of a man who has lost his love, health and band. Big Talker is one of the album’s finest points while Downtown could give Petula Clark a run for the most classic late night adventure seeking song. Certainly in contrast to Jon-Rae and The River’s last album, Knows What You Need, there are melancholic undertones to OH, MARIA, but My Hands portrays a man who may be broken but hasn’t lost the lover within.” – Penguin Eggs, Shannon Webb-Campbell, Summer 2009
Past Press Quotes:
“The undeniable immediacy, passion and pure spirit Jon-Rae lays down on his latest is so spectacular, it’ll take days before your soul recovers. It’s wholly bereft of pretense, and when Rae turns up the gospel you’ll pray for the apocalypse, while his fractured delivery threatens the implosion of everything he’s created.” – Now Magazine – Oct 2006
“Jon-Rae and the River have blossomed into Toronto’s wildest and most unhinged indie rock’n’roll band. Since leaving Vancouver in 2003, Fletcher has been one of Toronto’s most captivating front-men, thanks to his impassioned performances and his glorious alt-gospel songs. The band’s album ‘Knows What You Need’ is a collection of soulful rock songs about fucking, partying and playing music. Fletcher uniquely blends secular and spiritual imagery. Amidst the whiskey, cum and shit, there are references to souls that need saving, the cleansing power of baptism, and the retributive concept of hellfire.” – Vish Khanna, COVER STORY – Exclaim Oct 2006
“‘Knows What You Need’ sounds like it should be the soundtrack to a big tent revival, with Fletcher in the central role of charismatic preacher. Of course, few singing preachers would go in front of their congregations with lines like ‘Would you fuck me when I’m gone?’ (as Jon-Rae does in ‘Fuck Me’). From the horns in tracks like ‘Just One More’ or ‘When You Come Knockin’’, to the backing vocals on ‘Just One More’ and ‘Hard In The City’. Even the little things, like an organ fill in ‘Nothing To Do’, could’ve come straight out of the Stax studios four decades ago. It’s Jon-Rae as front man, however, which ensures that ‘Knows What You Need’ is no mere tribute to those old music styles, but rather those old genres reborn into a living, breathing, sweating, drinking indie rock reincarnation.” – i (heart) music – Oct 24, 2006