in city & country

by the young novelists

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    Get all 6 the young novelists releases available on Bandcamp and save 15%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of in city & country, made us strangers, in the year you were born, live at dublin st. church, a small town eulogy, and goodnight, young novelist. , and , .

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Thank you to the many, many people that we rely on to help make this music career happen! Chief among them being our tireless manager, Amie Therrien. Thanks to Howard Bilerman for the sublime guidance and endless patience, and to Shae Brossard for throwing up mics as fast as we could think of ridiculous ideas. And thank you to the very talented musicians who played those ideas and added their own to the mix.

There are not enough words to thank the venues and promoters and hosts that book us for shows and help us do what we love: play music for fantastic folks. And great, heartfelt thanks to those who come to the shows and make it such a worthwhile job.

Thanks to you who is reading this, for being the type of person who reads liner notes. Thanks to our families, your support means so much and really we would not be able to travel and play shows without it! Finally, thanks to our son, Simon, who has to come along for this crazy ride. He’s the only thing that gives us more joy than making music.


I was born in a small Canadian town called Verona – fair Verona town! as Shakespeare would say. I moved away as soon as I was able, in part because I didn't necessarily appreciate what I had when I had it. Or, maybe, it's easier to look back through the dim haze of nostalgia and realize it was a pretty good way to grow up. In any case, I do love small towns. But I live in Toronto, and I also love living in a big city. Maybe I just love living anywhere; I'm easy that way.

The songs on this album were all written about, or inspired by, or influenced by, specific small towns in Ontario. In late 2015 and early 2016 I picked a bunch of towns where I had some history or some connection, and I travelled to each of them and I did some research on their history and then we sat down and we wrote a collection of songs. Thirty or so. From those songs we picked ten that seemed to go together, or maybe that we thought people would like to hear, and we decided to record them. It sounds easy when I write it like that, but there were long discussions about which songs to include and which to exclude. Such is the nature of album-making.

In late March 2017 I had an opportunity to go to the Banff Centre for the Arts for a songwriting residency. There I met a producer from Montreal named Howard Bilerman and had a great time working on songs and doing some recording with him while I was there. When it came time for us to find a producer for this album, it seemed a natural fit. We travelled to Montreal to record the album, which was a new experience for us – our previous albums were all recorded in Toronto. It was magical to be in a beautiful city, spending our time and creative energy in a phenomenal studio, working with fun and fantastic people who were equal parts talented and devoted to the project.

The result is this album. A few years of writing and rehearsing, creating and compromising, honing and harmonizing; just doing the work to make a few songs sound decent to our ears. It may (or may not) be shocking to know how some songs come together whole cloth and others take months to find the nuanced moment that makes them work, at least for us. Hopefully they sound decent to you, as well. Thanks for listening.


released May 4, 2018

Graydon James – vocals, acoustic guitar, additional keys
Laura Spink – vocals, vibraphone, percussion

Derrick Brady – bass
Rory Calexico – drums, additional percussion
John Law – electric guitar

Howard Bilerman -- space lasers (9)
Jeffrey Louch – keyboards (1, 6, 8 10)
Lana Tomlin – viola, violin (2, 6, 8, 10)
Justin Wright – cello (2, 6, 8)

Produced & mixed by Howard Bilerman
Recorded at Hotel 2 Tango
Additional Recording at Typewriter Studio
Engineered by Howard Bilerman & Shae Brossard
Mastered by Philip Shaw Bova

All songs written & arranged by The Young Novelists

Management: Amie Therrien (
Artwork/Design: Roberta Landreth (

This project is funded in part by FACTOR, the Government of Canada and Canada’s private radio broadcasters. Ce projet est finance en partie par FACTOR, le gouvernement du Canada et les radiodiffuseurs privé du Canada.

We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country. Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.




the young novelists Toronto, Ontario

Exclaim! dubbed their first EP “unpretentious brilliance” and this Toronto-based folk-roots band has won critical acclaim ever since. Stephen Fearing described them as having “tight arrangements, great dynamics, and good songs with beautiful harmonies” and their live shows capture audiences with both barnstorming singalongs and heartbreaking folk ballads. ... more

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Track Name: two of a kind

verse: Eb Ab (Bb Cm) Ab
chorus: Bb Cm Ab Ab
bridge: Gm Ab Eb x2 Gm Ab Bb Cm Ab

i remember the hard nights
i remember the streetlights
i remember the time & the place where we kissed
was he in the same place?
the same look on the same face?
the same sense of despair cause i know now what i missed?

& what are you looking for & what will you find?
another look to constantly remind
you're holding onto the past or falling behind?
well we're two of a kind

spent the night at the bandshell
woke up to the church bell
now even the trees & the leaves are drifting apart
in the dark of the autumn
when he fell & you caught him
oh the end of a thread looks exactly like the start

& how does this compare to our other crimes?
the same heart torn apart at different times
& another one that constantly reminds
oh we're two of a kind


watching you pretend
through a mirror's subtle bend
a brother & a friend, how does it end?

i remember the hard nights
i remember the streetlights
i remember the time & the place where we kissed
Track Name: back to the hard times

capo III
verse: G C Em C G C D D
pre-chorus: Am C G B7
chorus: C D C D C D G G

brazen, blue on grey
like secrets tucked away
it doesn't hurt you the same & that makes it worse
there's nothing like a parade
of promises you shouldn't have made
& what if you had stayed to hear the second verse?

& all these declarations leave me cold...i'm not sold

i keep on coming back... x2
i keep on coming back to the hard times

there's a broken bike in our backyard
shouldn't have to be so hard
worrying at that scar is gonna leave a mark
cold sand on the beach
& cold stars, out of reach
you're trying out your speech as the days turn dark

& all these declarations leave me cold...i'm not sold



this little town by the bay
with secrets tucked away
there's a place where you can pray & get no reply

Track Name: don't wait

verse: Dm Am (Gm F) Bb
chorus: F Bb

up all night, whispers in my head
the MRI can't tell me what they said
& the stars are their eternal debate
you can catch up to the answers if they'll wait

but they don't wait...they don't wait

quick as a scar, turning your head
i was allowed but i never said
& the words they will form a cascade
with the sun in your eyes, the mood of the place
the tick of the clock, the time that we waste
& i know you never felt more betrayed

more betrayed...& i don't wait
i don't wait, i don't wait


blue & red lying in bed ashamed
the purple space between them goes unnamed
& you might state it plain – you might be saved
but i'll still lay my losses in your grave

but you don't wait...& i don't wait
we don't wait...on our son
we both the other one
& they don't wait; they don't wait.
Track Name: i moved on

capo III
verse: F C (riff) x2 F Am F C (riff)
pre-chorus: Em F Em F Em E
chorus: F C (riff) x2 F Am D9 F Em F F F

those three long-awaited words
i'm not strong enough to curse
but i won't push it aside like the jealous tide
it's for the best, well that's absurd
just like the rest, well rest assured
i can't close my eyes. i see both sides

& labour at the precipice
i should have told you more or less
it's too late

i moved on...i moved on
i have gone away i couldn't stay for long
i moved on

autumn's wounds have laid you low
an i would know
& in whom you confide; my guilt, your pride
every word's a private eye
a sharpened knife, a means to pry
& you might pull it apart. at least you'll try

& the hearts you lay bare
well don't just stand there
it's too late

i moved on...i moved on
i have gone away i couldn't stay for long
i moved on
Track Name: come round again

verse: F F Bb F
pre-chorus: Bb
chorus: F F Bb

if rio is really the city of your dreams
well nothing's better there but it's better than it seems
i can get behind taking a break if you want
when i was young, just to juxtapose
i saw the world through glasses of rose
but now i'm a ghost with no house to haunt

& now i know how much i tend
to break the hearts of all my friends

but love is going to come round again
is going to come round again
is going to come round again

well part of me is honest & part of me is false
part of me has trouble returning your calls
cause all of me is scared of what you're going to do
but i am still an optimist
an old romantic, at my best
i hope that you will make this old heart new

cause i won't break if i can bend
a second start is not the end

& love is going to come round again
is going to come round again
is going to come round again
Track Name: city & country

verse: C Em
chorus: G Dm [F C]

stay my hand all arrogant
words we spoke & words we meant
& all the places that change
& we still get there the same way

& now...even the cities are calling out
& now...all of the cities are calling out

take these days they'll never last
the best we were has been surpassed
& save all they lost in the fall
& pray that they don't take it all all, they'll take it all

& now...even the cities are calling out
now...we live with mistakes we can't live without
now...all of the colours are falling down
now...the people who care have been all strung out
they're all strung out & left to fade away

scrape the skies will they turn blue?
you needed most what needed you

& now...even the cities are calling out
now...all of the cities are calling out
Track Name: now's the time

verse: Am G x3 G C x2
pre-chorus: Bm Em C C
chorus: G Bm C C x2 G B7 C C

don't you decide you won
cause you relied upon the only
people who idolize
until they realize they've drawn
taller lines for you
better times to make it true
the shoulders of giants gone
shows your reliance, all aloof
foreign eyes provide the proof

contemplate the frame to stretch your lies
bold but still ashamed to break your ties

but break them all, break them now's the time
you say you're not afraid – another lie?
you face a fall or face another climb
...well now's the time

look at this rivalry
seems to survive on jealousy
weighing the consequence
the light that you shone against
throwing a shadow there
what's the matter? don't you care?
climb the ladder not the stairs

& exercise restraint or canonize
finally find the strength to break your ties

Track Name: all alone

verse: A D
pre-chorus: Bm D A A Bm D A F#m Bm D
chorus: A E D D

keep your faith but keep it away from me
I had my doubts & you had me
all these simple things denied
if you're looking for sin you'd better begin with pride

it's simple if you look at what you're shown
i'm confident there's space for the unknown...if it
comes down to it i'd rather be

all alone...

there's evidence hidden from your eyes
& common sense that everyone denies
an innocence that comes as a surprise
& faith where there's no compromise

it's simple if you look at what you're shown
etching your ideas into stone...i know
we all die & we are born

all alone... x3


it's simple if you look at what you're shown
& co-exist with things that you don't's not
all you's all you get

all alone...

keep your faith but keep it away from me
Track Name: living without a sound

I: F Dm II: Bb F III: Dm F IV: Bb Dm
outro: F Eb Bb Dm Am A

standing here shoulder to shoulder
the tip of your tongue made you bolder
suggesting a confident moment
or facing another opponent

a textbook, cut & dried
temptation undenied

the pressure of a silence keeping
inconvenient passions steeping
be careful cause the others are sleeping

& we're living without a sound
living without a sound

& take my shape
i would compensate

it's cheaper in a similar vein
except that nothing's ever the same

let me walk you down to the waters
say goodnight to your daughters
they ask you why you even bothered

we're living without a sound
living without a sound


we're living without a sound
living without a sound
Track Name: it gets a little lonely

verse: C F C F Am G C F
chorus: Dm G C F

make me over & i'll make do
nights like these are precious few
quiet, dark, and beautiful
like a wedding or a funeral
well, we learn our lessons the hard way
the hard way; the hard way
from every question you don't say
you don't don't say

growing older means you only
get to find out it gets a little lonely

let me down with one long look
they tell me that you wrote the book
but tell me now what kind of crook
breaks the only thing they took?
& you took it just to give it back
in pieces sharp & black
well we learn our lessons the hard way
the hard way – the hard way


...find out it gets a little lonely
find out it gets a little lonely