Let it never be said that those who can’t do host radio stations, since Guelph native Sam Boer is well on his way to doing both. The radio host at Western’s CHRW marked the new year with his second EP, Crossed Legs, four years after his debut.
The charming quartet of songs were all written during that time, wrapping up just over a year ago as he put his studio space to a different use, tapping The Burnt Hills Fire Department Band (only their latest moniker) for support during nearly a year of recording.
Crossed Legs is playful, intimate and sometimes strangely and uncomfortably honest. A revealing paragraph on Boer’s Bandcamp reveals the meaning behind the title, the many private moments shared in that universally comfortable position, capitalizing both on its ubiquity and our instinct to fold ourselves up for protection when we make ourselves the most vulnerable.
It’s hard to reconcile the rollicking, dancing rhythm of “Month of May” with the lyrics, boldly and clearly laid out by Boer. “We fell in love in the month of May/ But then June came and it went away/ We tried to reconcile July/But by August I couldn’t look you in the eye,” he sings, launching into the sprawling pendulum of emotions stretching out as the song celebrates the beauty of the love before the chorus fills in the winding, painful decline.
Guest Liv Cazzola elevates “Piece of Paper” as her gentle contributions offsets Boer’s almost naively optimistic chime—and fulfill a need sprung by the flourishes on the opener that call for the other side of the story. Meanwhile “Put Up The Lights” is a deliciously catchy and of the prescient interlude, with Boer charmingly observing, “I think I picked the coldest of nights/ To freeze my dreams and put up the lights.”
In fact, energetic and joyous when faced with the most visceral pain may just be the easiest way to sum up the jamboree that is Boer’s sophomore release. Even the final, sad song of Crossed Legs can’t truly let go of the need to laugh through the worst, dubbing itself “Drunkk Lovurzz” as Boer unwinds yet more of his heartbreak.
Of course, there’s always something to be said for learning to laugh off the worst—even if Boer often seems to be teetering on the edge of obsession with the idea. Then again, it’s common practice when exposing this much of yourself to use humour to hide the sadness—and as an on-air host that’s a lesson Boer would know well.
Top Track: “Put Up The Lights”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)