Vancouver Island native Jack Connolly takes you on a whirlwind of words, both poetic and profound, on his latest release, “Great Big Soul”. Released in November of 2014, “Great Big Soul” is the fourth release for this talented artist with a sound that’s hard to define. Blending rock, pop, folk and country influences, Connolly’s songs transcend the shallow feeling that many of today’s formulaic contemporary country tunes present. Like Ryan Adams or Tom Cochrane, Connolly funnels an immense amount of emotion into his music. From heartbreaking words that will make you fight back the tears, to foot-tapping, head-bopping palpable excitement, “Great Big Soul” is a triumphant collection of material that is a defining moment in Connolly’s decade-long career.
Don’t let the word “decade” fool you – Connolly is still a spring chicken. He started his career at a young age, playing coffee houses on Vancouver Island, where he test-drove his original tunes to the clamour of coffee cups and blissfully caffeinated smiles. His first release, “Open Stage”, was released in 2001 at the age of 15; and his second album, “The Empty Café,” released in 2004, provided Connolly with a barrage of critical acclaim and landed him the title of “Songwriter of the Year” at the Vancouver Island Music Awards.
Connolly’s seemingly savant songwriting abilities were bred from a childhood of musical admiration. He recalls the magical moment of lowering the needle on the record player to listen to inspirations like Elvis Presley and Leonard Cohen and feeling hard-hit by their expressive lyrics. Those moments are what drew Connolly to pursue music. After progressing through the coffee house scene on Vancouver Island, Connolly headed to Toronto, where he has spent the last 6 years building a solid group of supporters from fans to industry.
In 2013, Connolly scored the opportunity of a lifetime when he was selected as one of 6 acts to participate in the Canadian Country Music Association’s Discovery Program. He participated in career-focussed workshops and received mentorship from some of Canada’s top talent. He came away from the experience with a new drive and a clear direction. He also built a relationship with Curve Music, who signed Connolly and helped him complete and release “Great Big Soul.”
From beginning to end, Connolly’s tunes will tug at your heart strings and get to your gut. From the foot-stomping “Lock Your Doors” to the powerful “Anyone Who Wishes Prays,” Connolly paints vivid pictures of personal experience and relatable feelings that will make a fan out of anyone. You’ll travel from track to track through different feels, like gospel-inspired Motown, swelling steel, rocking guitar, and mellow mandolins, to end up at the obvious title track “Great Big Soul.”
After finding out that his father had been diagnosed with Leukemia, “Great Big Soul” was a song that came to Connolly while he grappled with the challenges that lay ahead. “Though I didn’t know it, I was heading for major change that would bring both joy and pain…It’s a challenge to enjoy each moment and it helps to remember that we’ve all got to move on — often long before we feel ready or willing,” says Connolly. In an almost divine moment during the recording of the album, the band decided to practice the song before taking a dinner break and hit “record” to capture any great moments. What resulted was a single-take song full of raw energy and emotion that ended up being the final track on the album.
From coffee houses to country bars and festivals, Connolly has had his fair share of the stage over the last few years and combines exceptional songwriting with a riveting performance. Sure to be a rising star in the Canadian country scene, check out Jack Connolly for yourself. Stay up to date on upcoming shows and news here:
Written By Cadence Grace