What’s the Deal with The New Deal? BIG Deal! Lots of New Music
The New Deal from Toronto had been off the grid for six years when they resurfaced in 2016 with Mercury Switch. There was another, hiatus, and then last fall the band released Phoenix, which featured new drummer Davide Di Renzo, and went on tour. The tour extended into 2020 right up until COVID time. And these guys have been really busy since.
For starters, they released another new album, Age of Discovery, and then Live: Charlotte 11.21.19. In June, they issue an excellent new EP appropriately titled Isolation Suite. Keyboard wizard Jamie Shields explains:
“What started out as a studio experiment quickly blossomed into a creatively-charged look inwards on our time in isolation, both as musicians and as humans. I chose to use only the instruments at my disposal in the studio and vowed to not allow more than a couple of takes per track. The energy that was generated by being alone in the studio for ten hours a day definitely translated into the musical emotion that embodies the Isolation Suite.”
Shields work out all of the arrangements and then sent the material to long-time collaborator Dan Kurtz on bass and Di Renzo to add their parts in isolation, as we have seen so many musicians do during this quarantine period.
Isolation Suite is magnificent, split into four sections, titled “Isolation: Cycles I-IV.” “Cycles I” is a mellow, slow-paced space anthem, Kurtz and Di Renzo governing the pace as Shields stacks synths on top of synths in a very relaxing song. This could have been on Les McCann’s album Layers.
Relaxation period is OVER! “Cycles II” jumps out immediately with punchy synths before Kurtz and Di Renzo roll in. In fact, Kurtz really rolls in — on tenor saxophone as well as bass! This is a powerful rocker. That synth refrain reminds you of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Di Renzo flexes here, and it is perfect. Shields offers a fine piano solo with lots of synth underneath. Plenty of organ as well.
Kurtz cues the funk with that nasty bass for “Cycles III” as Shields hits clavinet and synth. This is vintage Herbie Hancock, lovingly rendered New Deal-style. The rhythm section definitely brings the funk here!
“Cycles IV” begins with a steady beat from Di Renzo and a world of synths from Shields, much like “Cycles I.” The wordless chorus yields to a find rockin’ guitar coda from Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey’s McGee.
Check out all the new music here in the Spotify playlist below!