A Singer Must Die. The title of Steven Page’s new CD may make Barenaked Ladies’ fans cringe.
Is Page talking about himself?
Or is it that other guy, Ed Robertson, the one who’s still with the Ladies, the one Page used to duet with on If I Had A Million Dollars.
Neither, actually. It’s simply the name of a Leonard Cohen song that Page covers on the new CD (which lands in stores Tuesday). Nothing more. Nothing less.
Well, OK, maybe Page is being a tad mischievous. It’s his nature.
“There was a certain amount of irony that wasn’t missed when we were choosing that title,” Page says from his new home near Syracuse, N.Y. “There’s a sense of drama and irony, as well as a certain amount of pathos. Self-deprecation has always been my stock in trade. I didn’t want people to think that I had changed that much.”
A Singer Must Die. The Cohen song is one of ten covers on the album, which Page has recorded with Andrew Burashko and his classical chamber ensemble, the Art of Time. The album is a mixed bag of songs that include Jane Sibery’s The Taxi Ride, Rufus Wainwright’s Foolish Love, Elvis Costello’s I Want You and Radiohead’s Paranoid Android.
It’s not the type of record most artists would use to launch a new solo career. It’s not a pop record designed for airplay.
Timing, however, didn’t give Page much of an option. The album and its accompanying tour was planned before the infamous coke bust that would result in Page leaving the Barenaked Ladies, the multi-platinum selling band which he co-founded and named.
Back when it was conceived in the spring of 2008, A Singer Must Die was supposed to be just a side project. At the time, Burashko’s ensemble was doing a series of concerts with guest vocalists. The Page concert went so well, they decided to record a studio version and release a CD.
Then came the coke bust. It happened near Syracuse at the apartment of Page’s girlfriend, Christine Benedicto. They got off with little more than a rap on the knuckles from the trial judge.
Publicity-wise, however, the timing was horrendous. Barenaked Ladies had just released a children’s CD. Page announced his departure from the band and his side project with Burashko turned into the first album of his new solo career.
For fans who were hoping for something more traditional than A Singer Must Die, don’t worry. That will come soon. Page has another CD of original songs ready for release in May or June. And, according to Page, it is a “big, shiny, fun, pop record.”
The back-to-back release of these CDs coincides, more or less, with the first Pageless offering from the Barenaked Ladies. The band’s new album, All in Good Time, will be available in March.
“We don’t talk often,” Page says of his former bandmates. “I saw Kevin (Hearn) two weeks ago. I talked to Ed maybe two months ago on the phone. We call and check in, but we don’t talk often.
The bust was the immediate impetus for his split with BNL. But Page, who now splits his time between Syracuse and Toronto, believes it was inevitable.
“Things had certainly been breaking down for a couple of years. We probably weren’t as up front with each other as we were in (earlier) times. We were all pretty unsure about what we wanted to do and whether we wanted to stay together.”