Words by Sean Moeller // Illustration by Johnnie Cluney // Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
A Bahamas song is over in a flash. It's just here and then it's gone, shot like a bullet back into the forest. It's like an animal in the state of being spooked, but one that's able to hold its ground long enough, to stare you down for what seems like hours, conveying the depth of itself. It's a doe or a buck standing in a clearing, startled upright, jerked out of its comfort area, gazing at you with fear and yet expressing some piece of its soul through the air, with its big, round puddles for eyes. Then it darts back to safety with some awesome natural power, the simple movement of muscles and terror.
Afie Jurvanen, the Toronto musician who makes music under the name Bahamas, doesn't necessarily write music filled with fear, but there's a beautiful shakiness to it, as if the contents of the message or the countenance of the messenger weren't totally on even footing, as if they were atop a fault line, with no way to know when the plates beneath were going to shift next. Jurvanen writes about love that way, as if there is and always should be delectable mystery tied to every romantic endeavor. His songs are the flittering drops of subconscious that get rounded up and kneaded into these little ideas that are then thrown out from behind the curtain, onto the stage, given their two minutes of time and are then allowed to exit by the wooden steps on the side to walk off, having said their part. His songs are touching little nests of uncertainty and utter calm. They seem to believe in the unpredictability of anything that's going to happen next and instead focus either their nose for doom or their naiveté on the relationship at-hand.
The songs on his debut album, "Pink Strat" and his latest record, "Barchords," are lovely odes to these paper-thin feelings that sometimes prove to be thicker than the hide of an elephant and harder to shake than one could ever possibly imagine. They are the gum on the bottom of our shoes and the warm hands finding their ways into our pockets, making us feel as if we're not the only ones out there. Jurvanen is a troubadour, a man with perpetually sad eyes and a poet's tongue and though there's a bittersweet twist to the air, his words feel charged by a belief in happy endings, that all of the pain is going to stop casting a crooked eye and it's going to get better. The rains will stop falling and the mixed up hearts will snap out of their stupors to see what's right before them. He deals with unrequited love the way a parent deals with a child going through a slightly awkward phase that they're hoping will just get grown out of. He sings with confidence that all will be okay. He doesn't belabor the point, just says it. He sings on "Already Yours," "Is it really that much sweeter/On the other end of that receiver/There's no need to convert a believer/I'm already yours/I'm already yours," and you feel that all will be fine - for he and his, as well as you and yours.