"Go West, Young Man, Go West," an expression coined in the 1800s, could easily be rephrased and applied to Juno Award Winner Justin Rutledge to read, "Go East, Young Man, Go East," as that, quite literally, is what Rutledge has done here. His new album, aptly titled East, signifies not only his personal transition in moving away from the only city he's ever lived, but also, recording in the East, his first time making an album outside of Toronto.
In 2015, ready to make a change, Justin pulled-up roots in Toronto and replanted himself on the eastern shores of Lake Ontario in Prince Edward County. Leaving Toronto as a home was monumental for Justin, "Toronto is where I was born, but for some reason it became an increasingly foreign place to me. I knew I had to leave the city." Inspired by the beauty and serenity of these new rural surroundings, his seventh studio album was born, as Justin headed further east to Nova Scotia, marking the first time he has recorded outside of Ontario. "I've recorded in LA with my band Early Winters, but I hadn't yet recorded a solo album anywhere other than Toronto - I wasn't sure why, so I headed for Halifax."
Justin had known producer and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Ledwell for some time and was already familiar with the home studio Daniel had set up in Lake Echo, Nova Scotia. Having guested on the song "Bring Me A Rose" from Jenn Grant's award winning album Compostela which was recorded in Lake Echo (Grant and Ledwell are husband and wife) and with Daniel's encouragement to get out of his comfort zone, Justin trekked along the Trans-Canada to Nova Scotia. "I wanted to create an album in which a different geography served as the backdrop. I wanted to record on the east coast, use musicians from the east coast, even master the album on the east coast. Thinking of a title for the album was easy."
The songs on East see Justin embracing new styles, from the gospel tinged "The Great Ascension," to the lo-fi lament of "Queen Street Lost." Not lost, however, are the country-tinged pop songs like "The Old Oak" and "Blue Jeans." Of course, the hushed voice and the intricate storytelling remain, making East Justin's most accomplished album to date.