Fog Lake

Fog Lake is the solo project of Newfoundland, Canada artist Aaron Powell. Over the last ten years, his lo-fi recordings, described as “harrowing nostalgia,” have explored the dark valleys where everything has settled and must be understood. On his new album, Tragedy Reel, he reflects on small-town alienation and loss spanning his years living in rural Newfoundland.

Lost friends, lost love, addiction and vignettes of high school disillusionment are interwoven in Powell’s somber yet hopeful melodies, which combine the soaring highs of nostalgia with the sinking feelings of disappointment and regret. The album was recorded in the summer of 2020 during a 3-month stint in his hometown (population: about 2,000.) Powell combines downtrodden acoustic guitars with muffled pianos, and enveloping synth work by Warren Hildebrand of Foxes in Fiction, who also mixed the record. Across these songs, Powell uses music as a vehicle for healing, repentance and forgiveness in order to craft something deeply personal and therapeutic for himself, and hopefully in turn for others.

Single and album highlight “Dakota” evokes an American landscape, alluding to Powell’s experiences constantly moving back and forth from the city to his hometown on the island of Newfoundland. Swirling pianos, banjos and guitars create the bed of the track, along with the inclusion of string work provided by Molly Germer, who has previously worked with Alex G, Whitney, and Tomberlin. Powell describes the clashing feelings of homesickness and the never-ending battle between wanting to stay and try to make things work or begin again somewhere else. “I wouldn’t wanna stay here with you / But I don’t wanna leave here without you.” 

On the introspective lead-single “Jitterbug”, Powell describes the degeneration of first love from his adolescence to the present. Accompanied by pulsating Casio synths, guitar and piano, Powell describes shifting feelings toward his surroundings and how drastically things have changed over the years. “This town lights up for nobody at night,” he sings, describing the solitude found living in a place that once fostered dreams and hopes, but now feels desolate.

“I feel like high school was a traumatic time for me,” says Aaron. “A lot of people see it as their finest years. I bring it up maybe a little too often in my songs, but it had a profound impact on the way I am today, for better or for worse.” Like comparing photographs from two seperate times, the past and present are juxtaposed to harrowing effect, amplified by drumming by Julian Fader (Ava Luna, Um Are) and backing vocals by Warren Hildebrand (Foxes in Fiction).

On “Catacombs” Powell, describes the baggage and fallout of unrequited love through the filter of addiction and self-destruction. “I wrote it on my 27th birthday. It’s one of those songs that seemed to write itself.” With a nostalgic piano line and folk-influenced acoustics that present a bittersweet farewell to the days of hopeful bliss, the catacombs Powell describes are internal – a labyrinth of past mistakes, trauma and love gone astray. “I’d been practicing stitching your memory / Into something I could live without” he sings, in a signature androgynous, double-tracked vocal which calls back to the home recordings of 90’s lo-fi artists like Daniel Johnston and Elliott Smith. In closing, he finds relief in the idea that all is lost: “just tell me if you’re leaving and I’ll try to find a way somehow to make history of you,” hesings, yearning for a feeling of closure after all the dust has settled.

Fog Lake has brought his home-woven songwriting to a new place. His songs make sense of the past and present, finding hope in an age where everything seems further out of reach with each passing day. “This album feels like a massive step forward,” Aaron says, “but I still have a lot of records left in me yet.” 

Tragedy Reel will be released on April 23rd, through Hildebrand’s Brooklyn-based label Orchid Tapes.

Fog Lake Press Photo 1_Credit: J. KingFog Lake Press Photo 4_Credit: J. King

IMAGES: To download, click above. Credit to J. King.

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SINGLES:
“Jitterbug”

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