As any Ottawan will tell you, there’s creativity in the Saunders’ roots. And while they may mean the farm, which goes all out once a year to bring the best of frights to the Halloween season, it turns out it could just as easily apply to one former chainsaw guy turned musician.
Aidan Saunders, a multi-instrumentalist, choir singer, and one of the leads in Canada’s debut of the “Made in Dagenham” musical is now putting together his own act—a solo EP named, unassumingly or irreverently, Almost Nothing. Saunders makes sure to hit up some staple instruments, but also delves into the slightly more eccentric with the Wurlitzer and mandolin as he shows off his considerable musical history—even slipping in a brief instrumental number for “Sun Before the Storm.”
The EP itself is a quick sample that teases a more introspective side of Saunders, as opener “Stranger” pries at the what-ifs of falling for a friend. There’s a classic shimmy to “Lethe” as the up-tempo music contrasts playfully with Saunders’ downtrodden vocals—a stylistic choice that crops up briefly but effectively during the five-track sample.
“Be better than me/ Don’t make my mistakes,” he sings on the weary “Temporary Places.” It’s a heavy song that feels much older than Saunders, lightened by the gentlest percussion. It matches the stark turn of the later half of the EP, as introspection turns its most inward and both the future and present indecision loom in Saunders mind.
Still, it’s a surprising foray for a young debut—at times striking a wisdom that’s usually found years later (or years too late). And while it would be refreshing to hear Saunders explore more of his vocal range, especially given his choral background, there’s more than enough musical range to satisfy this outing.
Top Track: “Lethe”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)