WHITE BEARD

Plaid Is The New Black

Self-Released, 2019

8/10

Listen to Plaid Is The New Black

The music Whitebeard makes on this cleverly titled album is nothing like you may expect based on the cover. A Canadian troubadour with glassy smooth pipes, while an acoustic guitar is certainly in his arsenal, he’s just as versed at classic rock and power pop as he is country sounds.

“Nowhere To Go” gets the album off to a feel good start with flowing melody and strong vocals from Whitebeard, and “Sometimes” follows with punchy, upbeat piano melodica and a cozy, danceable atmosphere. “Bent Out Of Shape” finds the listen settling into more classic country territory, and “Paris” recruits a lush, retro feel with plenty of tunefulness amid a rugged atmosphere.

The back half brings more greatness, including the aptly titled “Tender”, which brings balladry to the equation, and the rowdy “Too Close To The Fire” which reminds me of Elvis Costello in his best period . Near the end, “I’ve Been Young” is a thick rocker and “Another Friday Afternoon” ends the album soft and agile with strong vocal work and calm guitars that are as reflective as they are playful.

Whiteboard has released 2 albums under his real name, Alan Curtis, though this one is likely the most eclectic, having been recorded in both Nashville and Winnipeg and sounding like it, too, with vast influences culled from the 800+ shows performed in his lengthy career.

Whether you prefer folk, rock, country or pop, Plaid Is The New Black has got you covered in spades, and it’s all delivered with warm textures and skilled instrumentation that’s as impressive as it is timeless.

Travels well with: Tom Petty- Full Moon Fever; Elvis Costello & The Imposters- The Delivery Man

Whitebeard Releases “Paris”

In a simple but swaggering strum, acoustic guitars stoke the flames of a folky melody at the starting point in “Paris,” the latest single from acclaimed singer/songwriter Whitebeard released earlier this month to a modest reception from critics and fans. They’re not the only evocative instrument that’s vying for our affections in the inaugural bars of this ballad; they’re joined by a plaintive piano and a melancholic croon from Whitebeard, whose weathered reflections provide us with a personable side of his artistry that was missing from previous efforts and finds a most welcome home here. The dirge of an understated drumbeat doesn’t spice up the track as much as I would hope for it to, but be that as it may, “Paris” is an engaging slow song that relies more on substance than superficiality to make an emotive statement.

Whitebeard plods through the verses at half the speed of the percussion, and rather than this forcing an interesting swing into the rhythm, it kind of interrupts the fluidity of the lyrics, at least in the first few stanzas. We chug along until we get to the chorus, where the instrumentation and the vocal finally synchronize, but it doesn’t last very long – once the cathartic resonance of the hook fades away, we’re back in the uncomfortable position of being wedged between the grind of the drums and the molasses-like melody in the singing.

DEEZER: https://www.deezer.com/en/album/90152612

The production value of “Paris” is the most alluring quality to be discovered in its four minutes and twenty seconds of play, as it’s far and away the most sophisticated of anything that Whitebeard has committed to master tape thus far. If he had put a little more effort into making the flow of the song as seamless as its mix is, I think this could have been the track to break him into the mainstream; but alas, “Paris” is ultimately a stepping stone for a songwriter who has the chops but isn’t quite prepared for the primetime (yet).

We conclude with an instrumental salvo that serves as the finale for the song and brings us full circle to where we first started out in the acoustic hum of the intro. As many times as I’ve listened to this track, I’ve yet to completely understand what audience that Whitebeard was most trying to appeal to – indie or mainstream. There’s shades of both sides of the dial in this single, and if anything, I think that “Paris,” and really all of Plaid Is the New Black, is a symbolic statement piece about the creatively transitional place that this singer/songwriter is in at the moment.

Gwen Waggoner

In his new single “Paris,” Canadian singer/songwriter Whitebeard dishes out a familiar melody accented with a unique swing that is varnished in his uniquely experimental style, and while it’s got its share of flaws, I think it makes for a nice addition to his growing discography just the same. “Paris” is structured around its plainspoken vocal track, which acts as a linchpin for a simple string arrangement and a stock drumbeat. The star of this show isn’t in the composition itself, but within the way that Whitebeard executes it in his trademark tender melodicism. Don’t let the barebones design fool you – this is as engaging a listen as any this artist has offered us thus far.

The vocal parts are more exciting and textured than anything going on in the instrumental portion of “Paris” is, but that doesn’t stop the guitars from delivering a really memorable lick in the chorus. I would have made the strings a lot more multilayered than they are in this setting, and while the instrumental melody that finishes off the song is sweet on paper, it grows pretty tiresome after the first twenty seconds of its existence and becomes flat-out boring in its final eight. Meanwhile, Whitebeard is killing it in the opening act of this single behind the microphone, which makes the absence of a strong backing band all the more glaring.

Production-wise, Whitebeard definitely spared no expense in making “Paris” as stylish and slick as anything on the pop charts at the moment. Is it a bit overindulgent in a couple of spots? There’s no denying it – but at the same time, I think that it’s excusable when we analyze the vocal explicitly. I’m not kidding when I say that it’s some of the most evocative singing I’ve heard from this cat to date and were it not mixed with keen attention to detail, I doubt that it would have been as crisp nor as stirring as it is here.

In addition to “Paris,” the other tracks that comprise Whitebeard’s new record Plaid Is the New Black makes for a pretty good follow-up to the somewhat restrained So Far So Good, and this lead single is a great sample of what listeners can expect to find in the whole of its parent LP. Whitebeard isn’t changing the world in this most recent offering, nor is he breaking any new ground creatively, but he’s nevertheless pouring all of his heart and soul into his songcraft and giving critics like myself something interesting to talk about this season.

Heather Savage

The music reviews

Sparkling strings cut through a piano-driven melody, and out of the darkness emerges a gritty vocal that starts to harmonize with them. The tempo is slow and pendulous, but the energy is urgent, almost to the point of feeling a little rushed. There’s a passion in our lead singer’s voice that isn’t reflected in the melodic instrumentation surrounding it, but still finds a way to infect the beat of the drums with its optimistic tone. This is “Paris,” the latest release from Whitebeard, and though it’s not the most stunning song that’s out this spring, it’s a solid representation of who its composer is – for better or worse – and moreover, who he’s aspiring to be in this next chapter of his career.

The harmony between the vocal and the guitar is sharp as a tack, and it balances out the tininess of the bassline and regrettably shallow piano parts excellently. I don’t like the contrasting pace in the instrumental elements here, but I can see where Whitebeard might have found it to be an exotic way of jazzing up an otherwise plain pop/rock ballad.

There’s a slight country twang that I would have enjoyed hearing a bit more of, and I don’t think that it’s enough to qualify “Paris” as a country song per-say. One thing that Whitebeard has going for him over his contemporaries is his flexibility as a songwriter. This single is eccentric to a fault, but at the same time it’s incredibly inspired thanks to its vivacious lead vocalist.

Lately I’ve got better vibes from other output in the Canadian underground than what this new cut from Whitebeard packs, but “Paris” should suffice as a satisfactory swing tune for country, soft rock and adult contemporary fans who enjoy eclectic melodicism that has more than its share of quirks.

Plaid Is the New Black, which includes this single in its tracklist, has a conceptualism that might be a little daunting to casual music enthusiasts, but for the serious audiophile, its experimental nature will leave you either loving what Whitebeard is doing or wondering why you chose to acquire this record over another this season.

Personally, I definitely think he’s on the right track towards breaking through on both a creative and a commercial level in “Paris,” and I’m excited to hear how he follows it up.

Eric Jarvis

Indie music review

At once decadent and conservative in tone, a guitar’s brittle melody paints the opening bars of Whitebeard’s new single “Paris” in melancholic blue, only to counter them with a blustery countrified swing a couple of stanzas later in the chorus. They’re devoid of virtuosity, but the strings full of as much vitality and uncut emotion as Whitebeard is in his vocal performance. This gorgeous arrangement is one of the song’s most significant qualities, but I don’t think that it’s the only reason to give this track a spin this April (along with the album it was spawned from, Plaid Is the New Black).

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/whitebeardmusic1/whitebeard-plaid-is-the-new-2

This master mix is really physical for what the song needs, but it’s also surprisingly concise when we consider how invasive it is in a few key moments. The entirety of Plaid Is the New Black feels more like a muscle flex than it does a creative evolution from what we heard in So Far So Good, and while it’s a little bit of a letdown for critics who might have been expecting more quality than quantity, it would be criminal to dismiss it as a throwaway record. “Paris” is a tasting plate of the tonality that it boasts with pride, even if it is a simple ol’ tune structurally.

My only real issue with this track is the chorus. There’s a lot of really exquisite tension in the buildup to what we assume will be a climactic release, and when it comes time for the fever pitch to sound, the hook falls remarkably short of where it needs to be at in order to give us those coveted chills. In a live setting Whitebeard will be able to apply a little more oomph to this portion of the song, which is really the sole problem that I found in its compositional make-up.

I will say that “Paris” has way more layers to its arrangement of instruments than anything I’ve heard from Whitebeard previously. The strings compete with the keyboard for the lion’s share of our attention at the onset of the track, and though the vocal swoops in and steals a big chunk of the thunder, it doesn’t completely drown out the melody framing the lyrics. This is streamlined enough for airplay on mainstream country radio, but I doubt that it would have a hard time finding a home on the college radio circuit as well.

“Paris” is hardly my favorite Whitebeard song, but it’s still a decent spring single that has enough charisma to compensate for the minor hiccups that it faces with its misappropriated hook. I’ve only recently gotten into this artist’s stuff, but I think he could grow into a legit threat in his scene if he trims some of the fat from his sound. Plaid Is the New Black is targeted towards a generation of listeners whose tastes are harder to define than that of their parents’ was, and even if it aims a little too high for what its creator is fully capable of achieving at the moment, its crown jewel single is a fun pick-up this April regardless.

DEEZER: https://www.deezer.com/en/album/90152612

Mark Druery

indieshark.com

More than any other performers in the country, Canadian singer/songwriters have been all the rage this spring, and though some of my peers might be inclined to disagree with me, I don’t think that Whitebeard fits the conventional profile of his peers in this movement. While his new single “Paris” has got the same ingredients that we’ve seen in similarly stylized artists, I hear none of the pretentiousness in his sound, and more explicitly his lyricism, that has become incredibly commonplace in his less than erudite contemporaries, both in and out of Canada, for that matter. “Paris” is a multidimensional ballad that seeks to engage us not only through its poignant pastoral poetry but via its vivid instrumental textures, evocative tonality and richly appointed master mix

 This single feels like an identity track for Whitebeard, and it definitely encapsulates everything that his latest album Plaid Is the New Black is all about. There’s a rootsy element to its rhythm that is flanked with a poppy hook in the middle of all the controlled chaos in the string play. It’s not as deliberate a construction as some of the other songs on the record that it shares a tracklist with enjoy, but I wouldn’t hold that against it when taking into account the experimental design of this new LP compared to So Far So Good. Some audiences might take issue with the overwhelming amount of components that it takes to make the groove in the percussion come alive in the chorus, but that withstanding, “Paris” is still a freewheeling ballad that doesn’t appear to have been fashioned exclusively for the mainstream crowd.

I’m really loving where Whitebeard’s experimentations are taking him, and with any luck, “Paris” and Plaid Is the New Black will be the start of an exciting new era in his career as a songwriter. He’s grown a lot since making his debut, and despite the limited attention that he’s received from press outside of the underground circuit, I think that he’s on a trajectory with this single that will take him out of obscurity and into the limelight once and for all.

Drew Blackwell

musicexistence.com

This April, Canadian crooner Whitebeard is taking listeners on a journey into what he’s calling Nashipeg; a bold fusion of north and south that is best embodied in the new single from his latest album Plaid Is the New Black, “Paris.” “Paris” has the look and feel of a country song with the cosmopolitan construction of a standard pop single, and though the combination of contrasting flavors is a lot to take in at once, it’s without a doubt one of the more fascinating sonic cocktails I’ve heard from a Canadian artist in the last few months.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/whitebeardmusic1/

The hook in the chorus is very modest, but it doesn’t fail in warming up the chilly percussive strut that haunts the bassline in the background of the track. I don’t want to hear a lot of recycled beats in contemporary country music, and thankfully, Whitebeard doesn’t waste my time with anything even close to that dribble in “Paris.” The groove is original, supple and matches up well with the anti-liberal approach taken to the strings. It’s not the excess that we’ve become accustomed to in so many of alternative country’s big name releases this year, but then again, I don’t think that it’s trying to fit in with that crowd or any other established “scene,” honestly.

I do wish the guitars would have been just a little bit louder in the master mix, because there’s a lot of underscored color in their licks that I found to be more exciting an element than anything that the drums or the keys have to share with us here. The arrangement is very meticulously structured, which makes it all the more frustrating to find it buried in a lot of exoticisms and needless frills that don’t do much for the narrative in the lyrics or the prowess of the guitar’s forsaken pummel.

The verses get somewhat predictable the deeper we get into the song, but they’re a step up from the weaker material on Plaid Is the New Black, in which I felt like Whitebeard was trying way too hard to appeal to a younger generation of folkies and eccentric hipsters. His adherence to individuality in this single is admirable, as is his commitment to making a song in his own unique way, but there’s something to be said about satisfying the majority as it relates to upping your album sales, and that seems to be something of a concern for Whitebeard in the album that gave us “Paris.”

 

He’s still got a long way to go before you can anticipate seeing him on the cover of any mainstream music publications, but there’s no question that Whitebeard is taking the steps that he’ll need to take to get there in “Paris.” He’s expanding on his now-signature formula, incorporating strange new influences that will eventually forge an even more interesting persona in later works, and touching on sonic territory that a lot of his closest rivals would normally shy away from. This isn’t Whitebeard’s watershed moment, but this single has given me a gut feeling that says we’re not all that far away from seeing that very moment in the near future.

Sebastian Cole

“Never been to Paris / Or walked the coast of Spain / Never skied down a mountain / Or leapt from a plane / No regrets for the things that I’ve never done / No regrets… ‘cept maybe one”

With these homespun verses, Whitebeard paints us a picture of reflective yearning in his new single “Paris,” from the album Plaid Is the New Black, and although it’s not the only song of a contemplative nature that critics have been discussing this month, it’s one of the few tracks of its genre to bear its singer’s heartfelt emotion as much as it does his burgeoning skillset.

There are plenty of layers for us to dissect in this mix, but “Paris” isn’t overwhelmingly complicated in the least; actually, quite the contrary. There are even a few places (such as the transition into the first chorus) where the song could have benefited from more panache on the part of the band, and you could even say that this is one of the more minimalist tunes that Plaid Is the New Black contains. It isn’t lacking in substance, but the framing of the central melody is the antithesis of indulgence, at least from where I sit.

Even the oversimplified elements that we encounter in “Paris” aren’t enough to impede the likability of these lyrics, and moreover the harmonies that shadow them in the strings. The drums are mild and more robotic than they are free-spirited, but their formulaic structure doesn’t have what it takes to make the rhythm of the song feel jaded or slothful. It would be nice to hear some of Whitebeard’s American counterparts follow his lead and adopt a more relaxed style of attack in regards to balladry, but that might be the biggest reason why his music stands out as much as it does in his scene and abroad.

Whitebeard is getting better at this game we call popular music, and his new single “Paris” is some of his strongest material released to the public so far. There’s lots of ground left for him to cover, but I think that it doesn’t take much more than a cursory listen of this track to appreciate just how much he’s evolved in the last year alone. Time will tell for sure, but as we inch closer to the 2020’s, I’m getting the feeling the Canadian soft rock is going to be defined more by underground artists like this one than it will by anyone currently dominating the FM airwaves.

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/7ynEblm1FVYAh4DWRPY5dm

by Bethany Page

 Unless you’ve been following his scene specifically, you’ve probably never heard of the singer/songwriter Whitebeard, but his latest album Plaid Is the New Black and its star single “Paris” are nonetheless a pair of releases that you should take a look at this spring.


Whitebeard mixes influences from R&B, pop, country, soft rock and folk music when he approaches the drawing board prior to making a new track, and while his melting pot of melodies can yield demanding listens every now and again, “Paris” is actually one of his more accessible songs to date. There’s still a whole lot of intricacies to behold in the lighthearted harmonies that adorn every verse, but next to the bloated So Far So Good, this is an undebatable upgrade.

The foundation of “Paris” is the vocal harmony that wisps through the stanzas at the start of the track and comes into full-form in the chorus, and it’s steeped in a minimalist look that I think Whitebeard wears better than most. I’m not loving the percussion in this song, but it’s so distant in the master mix that I don’t find it as big an annoyance as what I can only assume to be an accordion that painfully moans over the string parts. The vocal track salvages everything that these two elements discard with impunity and makes “Paris” a lot more palatable to both casual fans and hardcore indie disciples alike – which, in itself, is really no easy feat to pull off for any artist, regardless of talent.

I’d recommend keeping a close eye on this character in the wake of Plaid Is the New Black. Whitebeard is coming into his own and carving out a sweet little spot for himself in the hierarchy of the Canadian underground, and though he still needs to sharpen a couple of his tools in ballads like “Paris,” he’s got a moxie that I don’t see taking him anywhere but into the spotlight (once he figures out his aesthetics a little more than he has here). 2019 has been an exciting year for emerging indie artists around North America, and this musician – and his new single - can definitely be counted as among the season’s more curious stories.

Anne Hollister

. »  » Whitebeard drops new Single

Whitebeard drops new Single

A gust of acoustic guitars render a patient rhythm in “Paris,” the brand new single from Whitebeard’s Plaid Is the New Black, and they’re studded with a country color that will bleed into every other instrumental facet that the song contains. The beat of the hollow-point percussion becomes the centerpiece of the track, but it’s not designed to draw all of our attention away from the velvety vocal that Whitebeard is dispensing from behind the soft strings. “Paris” isn’t as worldly as its title implies it is, but with its clustered harmonies that linger over a bumpy bassline, it should suit the springtime soundtrack of most Canadian country fans this year.

I’m a little hesitant to call this an outright country song because, in reality, it isn’t one. “Paris” doesn’t know what it wants to be stylistically; it’s got a pop hook wrapped in folk-rock tones and country textures, and its cerebral construction makes it seem a little more bombastic than it needs to be. It’s not nearly as acerbic as some of the other songs on Plaid Is the New Black are, but that’s why I think Whitebeard picked it as a single; this isn’t about advertising the record that it was cut from – it’s meant to demonstrate the experimentalism that this artist is embracing with open arms right now.


The vocal is affectionate and has an angst-ridden quality to it that is, to some extent, even more evocative than the lyrics that it’s conveying are. Whitebeard’s best weapon in the studio is his golden pipes, and they’re given the VIP treatment from behind the soundboard in this latest single. Though the instrumental arrangement is perplexing to say the very least, the serenade in the eye of the storm is holding everything here together like sonic superglue.

Let’s get to the nitty gritty of what doesn’t work about “Paris.” To be blunt, I don’t need all of the excessive melodicism in the instruments; if you ask me, Whitebeard does a whole lot better when it’s just him, a guitar and a bucolic ballad that he’s singing from the bottom of his heart. I really hope that I get the chance to see him perform live in concert at some point in the future, if for no other reason than to hear songs like this one in their rawest and most unvarnished state. Something tells me that, even in limited circumstances, the material might be more gripping than it is with all of this additional polish applied to it.

With a couple of small tweaks to his style, I know that Whitebeard is going to be ready to take on anything that this industry can throw his way. His songwriting is almost ready for the big leagues, and for all of its faults, “Paris” is a truly sublime single that showcases the vibrant vocal of this unofficial mayor of “Nashipeg.”

Bluesbunny

A troubadour with pronounced country influences, Whitebeard crosses the water for his song’s title and sentimental inspiration before name checking his way around the rest of the world. He handles it all like a seasoned pro and that works just fine for my ears.

ANR Factory

If it’s been a while since you hit play on an authentically immersive Blues Rock track, Whitebeard’s single “Bent Out of Shape” is the perfect reintroduction to the ambience of the melodies combined with the emotivity of the lyricism.

Bent Out of Shape was just one of the singles found on the Canadian up and coming artist’s latest album “Plaid is the New Black”.

Even though there may be plenty of artists still playing plenty of odes to the roots of blues with their archaic takes on sound, the overwhelming amount of vocal harmony combines with the intricacy of the guitar progressions until you’re left with a mesmeric hit of aural synergy.

You can check out Bent Out of Shape along with the rest of the album by heading over to SOUNDCLOUD now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Culture Vulture Magazine

Imagine my surprise! In fact, consider my utter astonishment when Alan Curtis’ CD found its way into my player and the first track, "Ten In Heaven" kicks of like an old ELO tune. Strangely worrying. Luckily things improve quickly - I don’t have time to fall of my chair - and earthier tones come to the fore. I think there’s an Elvis Costello record or two loitering in Curtis’ album racks, so, still stuck in the ‘70s, but generally, that’s no bad place to be. The ‘70s were ace; I loved ‘em, and so does Alan Curtis. His debut borrows plenty from the decade that birthed new wave, glam rock and the singer-songwriter. He helps himself to the bits he likes, files the rest away, and has turned out a collection of rockers, ballads and quality guitar pop. Of course, times were simpler back then, and More Than I Can Be is to be enjoyed on that level. Uncomplicated fun. Isn’t that the best sort? 


Radio Indy

RadioIndy is pleased to present Alan Curtis with a GrIndie Award for the CD "More Than I Can Be" 

On his first solo album, "More Than I Can Be," Alan Curtis blends an array of roots rock influences with creative arrangements. The CD opens with "Ten in Heaven," a retro allusion that could lend itself to the likes of Brian Wilson or The Traveling Wilbury's while not swaying too left of contemporary. Through vocally driven songs, Curtis establishes his unique character while also keeping the layering fresh and engaging throughout. With a heartfelt piano ballad as heard on the title track "More Than I Can Be" followed by dance inducing beats, Curtis's love for rock n roll is lucid in each song. Feel the driving drum beats on "Greed (Money, Money, Money)" while vocals belt out melodic lyrics and the organ holds solid chord progressions. If your old Tom Petty records have lost their thrill, this new CD may be a solid successor.


-Max B. and the RadioIndy.com Reviewer Team 


Winnipeg Sun

You might have heard Curtis wailing away as the frontman for local AC/DC tribute band Whole Lotta Angus. But we'll wager you've never heard him like this. The singer shows his softer side on this striking debut, crooning nine personal tunes that owe more to the melodicism of Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello and Elton John than they do to three-chord blues-rock. Let there be pop. 


Winnipeg Free Press

WINNIPEGGERS who know Alan Curtis only as frontman for AC/DC tribute band Whole Lotta Angus will get to see him in a whole new light on his latest solo offering.

Instead of hard rock, Curtis's songwriting strength leans heavily on the blues, reggae and soul. There is some of classic-rock influence in songs like The End's in Sight, the boogie-blues of Lil Black Dress and Stormwarning, but he proves even more adept at summery acoustic tunes and reggae-based numbers like Don't Change, the socially conscious On the Sidewalk and Where's Doris Day, all which should appeal to fans of Sublime and Michael Franti. Curtis handles keyboard and vocals, leaving the sizzling lead guitar work to Len Milne, who also produced it at his studio, Bedside Studios.

The album might claim it goes up to 11, but it rarely does -- instead we get to see another side of Curtis, one who isn't afraid to dial it back a bit. Impressive, no matter what the volume. Three and a half stars. -RW-Winnipeg Free Press 2011


Junior's Cave Online Magazine

Alan Curtis is a master of songwriting and king of mesmerizing and beautiful lyrics that become his best trademarks. He has a familiar sound that fans can relate to; yet, he adds a touch of his own personal flavor into his music fans will find refreshing and fun when they pick of his album. He pours his heart and soul into his music, and this certainly comes through when one listens to Alan’s songs. In this spotlight with the artist, Alan speaks candidly about his music and the path he is taking in life. Enjoy!