Singer/songwriter Pat LePoidevin grew up in small-town B.C., immersed in Canadian culture, never fully connecting with his paternally-inherited American citizenship. His latest album, American Fiction, enabled him to discover and learn about his other citizenship. LePoidevin and childhood friend Lewis Smith used Google Maps to choose each of the 10 song titles from small American towns with interesting names and locations.
“We would research them and figure out the outer layer, see what the town is all about,” LePoidevin said. “We would let our creative control take over and write a fictional story about the town and mix that into songs.”
LePoidevin tried to incorporate the towns’ histories into his songs. Hayden Lake, Idaho is famous for housing the lavish and expensive F. Clark Lewis mansion. In “Hayden Lake, ID,” he describes the extravagance of “this house I’ve always been curious about.”
Smith wrote a collection of five short stories to complement five of the album’s songs. In his version of “Hayden Lake, ID,” a young man is employed as a butler in this mystery mansion.
American Fiction has only been released in Canada, and LePoidevin is currently on his Canadian tour of the same name. Some of his fans feel frustrated as to why he didn’t apply his album concept to Canadian towns.
“So many musicians in Canada write about Canada, and we were just looking for something different,” LePoidevin said. “A lot of the feelings we’re trying to get through the album is how proud people can be of their towns and of their heritage.”
The places don’t define the album because the songs breathe “familiar themes and unknown postmarks.” LePoidevin and Smith even draw from their experiences in rural B.C. to illuminate the towns in their respective stories.
American Fiction further embraces this thematic synthesis of the familiar and the foreign by ordering the songs to cater to the needs of their vinyl edition.
“We all listen to singles on iTunes, but when it comes down to it, you want to listen to a good record,” LePoidevin said. “You want to have a good song to close each side so that you can remember you want to flip the record.”
The fifth song and closer of side A, “Caliente, CA,” has a climactic final refrain, enticing the listener to hear the other side’s songs. Side B closer “Twilight Park, NY” ends with a soft piano and trumpet solo as a tribute to LePoidevin’s big-band-loving grandfather; it also gives the album a satisfying yet memorable ending.
“Centralia, PA” incorporates a synthesizer into LePoidevin’s classic acoustic style. LePoidevin loved the result, and hopes this won’t be his last encounter with the synthesizer. Recently, he has been into electronic music, particularly Swedish pop singer Robyn. Having first learned the bagpipes, LePoidevin is always looking to experiment with different musical styles.
“The tour is going amazingly well,” he said. “But by the end of it, I’ll be exhausted and just want a little bit of a change. I don’t know what that’ll be, but I’m always looking to do different things.”