By David Kenney
Writing happy songs isn’t easy–just ask Jason Mitchell. Channelling joy into song form is more difficult than penning a tale of woe-is-me for the Kelowna singer/songwriter. Not that he doesn’t try, and sometimes succeed.
"It’s a lot easier to focus on the negatives, sadness, loneliness or anger; [they] are such strong emotions," says Mitchell. "It’s easy to go into your little cave and draw from all of your personal experiences."
And does he ever draw from those experiences. On his debut album The World is Flat, Mitchell unveils a set of stories that range from regret to disillusionment to bliss and relief. Supported by a high-energy, mid-tempo folk sound that takes pieces of Bob Dylan’s singing style, Cat Stevens melodies and sometimes even Latin guitar, Mitchell’s record has a loose sound that varies in each song. Mitchell says finding focus for the album was a challenge.
"It’s tough, I was raised with so many different types of music, Talking Heads to [Red Hot] Chili Peppers to Dylan to hip-hop and also working with new people for the album there’s a lot of influences happening," he says. "It’s really interesting, very much a first album."
"It’s been very bizarre, but you don’t get bored," he continues.
Mitchell is anything but boring live. With a relaxed, coffee-house attitude, Mitchell sets the mood for conversation with thoughtful lyrics and high-drama vocals. Playing at Karma Local Arts House each Tuesday until April 25, folk fans can expect a show that captivates and drains them.
Singing with his eyes closed like he’s reliving each moment, Mitchell’s introspective vocals pound home points in both whispers and shouts.
Such relentless passion is also found on Mitchell’s record. "Shadowed" is an emotional track with Mitchell’s vocals falling and rising like a tense argument.
Bob Dylan’s influence shines through on the hopeful "Bent," a "Tangled Up in Blue" sound-alike Mitchell makes his own with strong, melodic vocals. But Mitchell’s true power lies in the emotion behind each song. The Kelowna native describes himself as a very open person who gets bombarded with a lot of emotions that flow into poems or songs.
"I’ve put myself on some pretty tough roads and I really wanted to travel a lot and meet a lot and be swept up by all sorts of things, with relationships and meeting people and I think that usually provoked a lot of writing for me," says Mitchell.
Mitchell’s provoking spirituality also dawns through his songs. Questioning the division between religions and talking about emotional crucifixes, Mitchell says his beliefs and his music go hand in hand.
"I think music is my purpose and I’m meant to share it with people," he says.
"With that (music) comes my spirituality, like how we interrelate with one another as humanity and with the great mystery and love. I really want to transcend that and push it out in my music."