In October of 2017, after a long and genuinely moving public farewell, Gord Downie, frontman of the Tragically Hip and Canadian national hero, died of brain cancer at the age of 53. Reading a statement about Downie’s passing, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau broke down crying. Since Downie’s death, there has been one posthumous album: Introduce Yerself, which Downie recorded with Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and which came out days after Downie died. Soon, there will be another posthumous Downie album, and it’ll feature the last songs that he ever recorded.
Next month — almost exactly three years to the day after Downie’s departure, Arts & Crafts will release Away Is Mine, an album that Downie recorded in the last three months of his life. Guitarist and co-writer Josh Finlayson, of the Toronto band Skydiggers, recorded the songs with Downie over four days in July of 2017. Musicians on the album include multi-instrumentalist Travis Good, of the Sadies, and drummer Lou Downie, Gord’s son. Away Is Mine is being released as a double album, and it’ll feature acoustic and electric versions of the same 10 songs.
In a press release, Finlayson says, “There really wasn’t a plan to make a record. The whole thing was that I knew this was a great way to spend time with Gord, listening to music, talking about music, talking about things that we’d always talked about. And this just evolved pretty organically.” Downie’s brother Patrick says, “This won’t be his last release, but these are the final 10 songs Gord sang before he passed away. The last time he ever sang into a mic. That’s pretty special to us.”
Today, Arts & Crafts has shared the electric versions of the album’s first two songs, the thoughtful and ruminative “Hotel Worth” and “Useless Nights.” Listen to both below.
01 “Hotel Worth”
02 “Useless Nights”
03 “I Am Lost”
04 “About Blank”
05 “River Don’t Care”
06 “The Least Impossible”
07 “Traffic Is Magic”
08 “Away Is Mine”
09 “No Solace”
11 “Hotel Worth (Acoustic)”
12 “Useless Nights (Acoustic)”
13 “I Am Lost (Acoustic)”
14 “About Blank (Acoustic)”
15 “River Don’t Care (Acoustic)”
16 “The Least Impossible (Acoustic)”
17 “Traffic Is Magic (Acoustic)”
18 “Away Is Mine (Acoustic)”
19 “No Solace (Acoustic)”
20 “Untitled (Acoustic)”
Away Is Mine is out 10/16 on Arts & Crafts.