Bahamas | Sad Hunk | Brushfire Records
3.5 out of five stars
Hmmm. It’s not always easy to judge the brand — or in this case, the band — by the name. So when a Canadian musician of Finnish ancestry goes by the professional name Bahamas, it doesn’t exactly allow for a definitive description. Nevertheless, singer, songwriter and guitarist Afie Jurvanen has managed to sow a productive career even under that elusive alias. With five albums to his credit, released over the past twelve years, he’s managed to garner multiple Junos, a 2018 Grammy nomination, a wealth of critical kudos and a fan base that’s been building exponentially in the process.
As a result, Jurvanen’s new release, Sad Hunk, finds him facing the fact that he has a lot to live up to. Although the album name seems strange as well—it’s derived from a nickname given him by his wife, supposedly based on the way he’s been portrayed in the press — it’s a supple set of songs that’s as engaging as it is agreeable.
Indeed, lest the title causes anyone concern, there’s never any hint of a downcast demeanor. Bahama’s customary mix of rock, pop and rhythm is delivered with a casual caress that varies only in terms of pacing and perspective, from the easy sway of “Trick to Happy” and the seemingly effortless aplomb of “Less Than Love,” to the insistent tempo of “Own Alone” and the snappy send-up found in “Done Did Me No Good.” Jurvanen’s unassuming attitude, confidence and clarity make this an engaging effort overall, alluring and appealing all at the same time. Whether it’s the cheery “Up With the Jones,” the supple yet suggestive “Not Cool Anymore” or the tender touch given “Half Your Love,” Sad Hunk has a sense of carefree nonchalance that’s all too evident. Those looking for comparisons might find Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson ready references, but it’s also clear at the same time that Jurvanen is capably carving out a niche of his own.
“I guess I’ll never learn my lesson, that much I know,” Jurvanen sings on the song “Fair Share,” a litany of abject insights he freely shares from experience. Judging from all he offers here, both confidence and credibility are thoroughly conveyed.