Local musician Jeff Michel kicks off new album with his take on winter

Local musician Jeff Michel is looking forward to the release of a solo album, likely next year, and he’s going to kick it off by releasing a single about a topic that is all-too familiar with Saskatchewan residents.

Just Another Winter was written on Boxing Day 2016, when he had a frigid 12-hour drive on a day in which it was -36 C outdoors. He was travelling from Edmonton to Estevan, following a visit with his sister.

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While he was in Edmonton, Estevan was getting socked with a powerful snowstorm in which snow clearing crews had to work. The last thing he wanted to do after the 12-hour drive was blow snow so he could access his garage.

He started to dictate the lyrics during the long drive.

“Over the years, I’ve started to take myself a little less seriously in certain cases,” Michel told the Mercury. “Sometimes I think that tongue in cheekness maybe comes out in some of the lyrical content. I think it’s one of those things where the track itself, it portrays it as something that’s coming whether we like it or not.”

The timing of the song is perfect, because the Estevan area has received frost and traces of snow in the past week.

Just Another Winter is set to be released Oct. 30.

“I think we use winter as kind of a rallying point. Maybe Canadians can’t really agree on a whole lot politically, but we can usually agree that in some parts of Canada over winter, most people usually have some kind of a crazy winter story.”

That makes winter conditions a point of commiseration for people.

There is also a little bit of humour that comes out in the song and his other music.

“Humour for me in the music is important,” said Michel. “I grew up listening to Weird Al Yankovic and some of the other parody songs, like Snoopy and the Red Baron.”

Just Another Winter is Michel’s first new music since he joined up with close friends Mike and Lindsay Davis to form Hook & Nail and release their debut album Ghosts of Taylorton in 2018. The album was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Association Award.

He noted that some of his songs had been shelved while working with Hook & Nail.

“It’s exciting to get back and reopen some of those mixes and get excited about releasing new stuff again,” said Michel.

Pre-orders for Just Another Winter started Oct. 2. The song will be released to Canadian markets and all digital/streaming services.

Michel’s album, which would be his second full-length effort, doesn’t have a title or a released date as of yet, although he expects it will be out in the spring of 2021. It will be an eclectic mix of country-tinged folk/rock songs, exploring themes of aliens, family, loss, winter whimsy, dragons, storms and the wisdom gained as one grows older. 

He expects to have 10 or 11 songs on the album.

“Once all of the tracks are in order, it might evoke some kind of a theme, or there might be other songs that have yet to be written between now and then, and that could determine what we’re thinking about calling the album.”

Michel expects he will release at least one more song before the album is out. The songs that he has selected as potential singles are the most complete.

He hopes to complete everything in-house. There’s another track called Never Had a Chance to Miss You, in which he’s talking to Davis and Arnold about a collaboration, but most of what he’s doing will be his own arrangement.

“If it does warrant it, I probably would look at having others come in and having another singer play various parts, but for the most part, I’m self-contained for this one,” said Michel.

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