On his third album Adjustments, singer-songwriter Noah Reid documents the kind of minor schisms and major upheavals that leave our lives forever altered. Endlessly revealing the nuance and character of his voice, the Toronto-bred artist imbues his incisive storytelling with a potent expression of unease and frustration and ineffable wonder—an emotional complexity perfectly echoed in the album’s elegantly orchestrated yet unpredictable form of alt-rock. At a time when turmoil feels strangely commonplace, Adjustments ultimately allows for a moment of quiet transcendence within the chaos, wholly transforming the very texture of our experience.
“I wrote this album during a transitional period where a lot of tectonic shifts were taking place in my life,” says Reid, also an accomplished actor known for his role as Patrick on the award-winning series Schitt’s Creek. “I was getting married, Schitt’s Creek was coming to an end, the pandemic was beginning—some of the changes were more internal and others were more at the societal level, but they all involved a shift in my thinking about the world around me.”
Recorded live at Toronto’s Union Sound Company and produced by Juno Award nominee Matthew Barber (who also helmed Reid’s 2016 debut album Songs from a Broken Chair and its 2020 follow-up Gemini), Adjustments came to life over a series of sessions with musicians like guitarist Christine Bougie (Bahamas, Amy Millan), drummer Joshua Van Tassel (Great Lake Swimmers, Amelia Curran), and trumpet player Bryden Baird (Feist, Ron Sexsmith). On the album-opening lead single “Everyday,” Reid offers a sublime introduction to the expansive sonic world of Adjustments, sharply contrasting the song’s heavy hearted mood with bright guitar tones and effervescent melodies. “I wrote that song in the early days of the pandemic, when I’d look out the window at this park that’s usually full of kids and families but now was totally desolate,” says Reid. “It came from a feeling of being forced into a sort of loneliness, and not really knowing what to do about that.” With its ethereal textures and swooning steel guitar, the piano-driven “Left Behind” speaks to the bittersweet freedom of living life at your own unhurried pace. Meanwhile, on “Rivers Underground,” Reid presents a gorgeously tender meditation on love and luck and risk, amplifying the track’s intensity with a luminous string arrangement courtesy of Drew Jurecka (a Grammy-nominated composer who’s worked with Buffy Sainte-Marie and The Weather Station). “My wife Clare and I have talked at various points about how easy it would’ve been for us not to find our way to each other,” says Reid. “Writing that song, I was thinking about how Toronto’s built on all these underground creeks and rivers, and how that’s a good metaphor for the strangeness of human connection—these waters trying to find their way out to the lake, flowing together or ending up apart.”
One of the most galvanizing moments on Adjustments, “Statue’s in the Stone” begins as a weary lament for the state of the human heart (“We treat it like it’s all infinite/And we throw it all away”), then unfolds into a soul-stirring anthem lit up in lush harmonies and incandescent horns. “We live in a very judgmental time, where social media really highlights this urge to tear each other down,” says Reid. “But I think if we looked inside ourselves with any kind of honesty, we’d realize that what we need is within us, and we’d be able to lead with a little more love and kindness.” Several songs later, Adjustments closes out with the thrilling catharsis of “Everything’s Fine”: an eight-minute epic that reaches an ecstatic frenzy at its gloriously sprawling, guitar-drenched bridge. “Over the past few years it seems like we’re simultaneously being told everything’s fine and absolutely nothing is fine, and it can be so hard to tell what’s real,” says Reid. “That song came from the confusion of that, and in the studio we decided to just to let the band rip and completely burn the house down.”
A longtime musician who began composing melodies on piano as a child and later developed his song craft while studying at the National Theatre School of Canada, Reid infuses all of Adjustments with the clarifying directness of a close conversation—yet unfailingly demonstrates a poet’s ability to draw immense meaning from the most granular details. As a result, the album abounds with warmly delivered wisdom—an element that’s illuminating for both audience and artist alike. “Sometimes a line will jump out of my mouth when I’m out on a walk or driving or alone in my house playing piano or guitar, and I’ll just to try to follow that line wherever it takes me,” says Reid in discussing his creative process. “I often don’t really understand what I’m saying as I’m saying it, but then I’ll listen back later on and go, ‘Oh, okay—that was useful.’ This record has definitely done that for me, and I hope it will keep on talking to me over time.
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