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Rodrigo y Gabriela
Grammy Award winning duo Rodrigo y Gabriela grew up on an eclectic mix of classic rock, heavy metal and flamenco, a rare alchemy of influences that still informs their work today. Not long after the dissolution of their first band, the two musicians set off with their acoustic guitars and ended up in Ireland, where they soon ran out of money and began busking on Dublin’s Grafton Street — a turn of events that led to their crossing paths with Irish singer/songwriter Damien Rice, who then asked them to open for him at an early headline show. As they developed their distinct breed of guitar music, Rodrigo y Gabriela quickly gained recognition for their extraordinary live show and made their full-length debut with 2002’s re-Foc. Along with turning out 8 additional acclaimed and kaleidoscopic albums over the years: including Area 52 (a 2012 effort made with a Cuban orchestra), 9 Dead Alive (a 2014 release that spotlighted their more rock-leaning sensibilities) and the 2020 Grammy winning Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, Mettavolution, the duo has cemented their status as a globally renowned live act. Among their many successes: performing at The White House for the President and First Lady of Mexico at a 2010 event hosted by Barack Obama; headlining the Jazz World stage at Glastonbury; selling out major venues like the Hollywood Bowl, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, London’s Royal Albert Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and the Sydney Opera House; and performing to massive crowds in such far-flung cities as Tokyo and Paris. 2023 sees the release of their most ambitious project yet, the Advaita Vedanta inspired In Between Thoughts…A New World, which features their signature dual guitar attack augmented by a full orchestra, and a corresponding world tour.
The fifth album from Bahamas, Sad Hunk takes its title from a nickname bestowed upon the artist by his wife in reaction to how he was being portrayed in the media, “Something like ten years ago I did a photo shoot, and in all the pictures they sent back, I was lit half in shadow, looking all brooding and mysterious,” says the award-winning singer/songwriter otherwise known as Afie Jurvanen. “When my wife saw the photos the first thing she said was, ‘Whoa—sad hunk,’ and after that it became sort of a joke among our friends.”
It’s a fitting backstory for an album that embodies an undaunted self-awareness, each track graced with Bahamas’s wry wit and unabashed heart. In sketching Sad Hunk’s delicately composed batch of songs, Jurvanen drew much inspiration from his home life and all the joy and struggle that comes with building a family together. Having recently moved to the coast of Nova Scotia with his wife and two daughters, the Ontario native inevitably imbued the album with his surroundings, even while committing to a sometimes-painful sincerity in his lyrics. “I definitely use music to work things out for myself,” says Jurvanen. “It’s possible I’m too open sometimes, but I really don’t know any better way to be. If I tried to just go write fun songs about hot dogs or something, I’d probably fail.”
An album born from charmed spontaneity and raw imagination, Sad Hunk unfolds in a genre-less groove-heavy and jangly sound beautifully suited for Jurvanen’s warm vocal presence. In its musing on what’s essential and what’s expendable in today’s world, the album offers up songs like “Own Alone”—a brightly kinetic track threaded with a bit of self-effacing wisdom (“Too broke to feel so wealthy/Too young to feel unhealthy/Too old to understand the selfie/Too far gone for you to help me”). “That song came from being fascinated by how being on our phones all the time changes us at a cellular level—it changes the way you think, it changes the way you operate,” says Jurvanen. “I’m not suggesting we become Luddites and churn our own butter, but I do think we need to question whether you really need to have this thing on you at all times.”
For all its moments of heavy-hearted reflection, Sad Hunk ultimately channels a certain lightness, the pure elation in expressing what often goes unspoken. “You say things in songs that you’d never, ever say in conversation,” Jurvanen notes. “But it feels really good to say those things. I don’t know why telling people the most basic things you’re thinking is so hard sometimes, but it is. ”In sharing the album with the world, Jurvanen hopes that his songs might inspire others to embrace their own sad-hunk tendencies. “We’re all sad hunks—we’re all these broken beautiful human beings,” he says. “The idea that there’s only one way to live life is so backward. So instead of listening to the noise, just get in touch with what’s inside and find something you love to do, and then do it well. And don’t let yourself be hard. Just be soft. Be as soft with each other as you possibly can.”