More than a decade in the making, Gord Downie, the iconic late frontman of The Tragically Hip, and Bob Rock, the legendary producer perhaps best known for Metallica’s Black Album, today share “Lustre Parfait” – the first song of their long mythologized collaboration.
Inspired by their brotherhood in rock n’ roll, “Lustre Parfait” is electrified and resplendent, created in reverence to the magnitude of music itself. Blending poetry and power in lavish measure, the song bursts out of the gate with breakneck pace, organ flourishes, and horn blasts, inspiring Gord’s thoughtful verse and explosive chorus – a booming invitation to “gather in the dark” for that silent, deafening moment when the lights go down and the stars start to star.
Wearing the musical influences of giants on their ample sleeves, sparks fly from the first salvo of “Lustre Parfait,” the groove racing like a la Exile on E Street. Downie sings above his high water mark most have come to know, inspired by Rock’s mastery of brash post-punk and brassy stadium anthemics.
Defiant, with a crystal clear fury in his voice not heard since The Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem farewell tour, Gord unfurls pristine lyrical strands from Rock’s cathedral of sound, divining imagery both raucous and gothic – “we float above the wreck … like A Scene From the Deluge.”
Compared to the raw intimacy of Downie’s posthumous solo releases – 2017’s letter to loved ones Introduce Yerself and 2020’s ghostly goodbye Away Is Mine – “Lustre Parfait” is a rallying cry from a voice that echoes loud and clear: Gord Downie, in the pocket of a gleaming rock band, relentless, lit up by the risk of collaboration, blazing on the edge of experimentation.
Downie and Rock’s collaboration began when they first worked together on The Tragically Hip’s World Container (2006) and We Are The Same (2009). It was after the production of the second outing that Downie asked if Rock had music he could write lyrics for.
The sonic spaces that Rock would provide incited Downie to delve into the depths of his notebooks, armed with the musical clues to find the brilliance mapped therein. On “Lustre Parfait,” charged the full strength of his spirit and the magic of collaboration, Gord tugs on the heartstrings of the mind, with such perfection: All I want/ All I wish/ Is for a heart I can give/ First word/ To final wish/ A heart I can give.
“First and foremost Gord was my friend, and having the opportunity to work with him on these songs was one of the biggest highlights of my professional life,” says Rock. “I am grateful that I got to witness his genius in such close proximity.”
Words by Gord Downie and music by Bob Rock – the fireworks in that statement alone reverberate vastly. Contributing guitars, keyboards, and percussion, the multi-platinum-selling, Grammy- and Juno-winning, Canadian Hall of Fame-inducted Rock shines on “Lustre Parfait.”
Renowned for a stunning and diverse discography that ranges from Motley Crüe and The Cult to Cher and Michael Bublé, Rock inspires Downie’s performance with searing electric melodies and rock n’ roll grandeur. Flanked by co-producers Jamey Koch on bass and Adam Greenholtz on keyboards and percussion, Rock leads a cast of contributing musicians that intuit the depth of his ideas on “Lustre Parfait.”
The horn duo of Tom Keenlyside on saxophone and Steve Madaio on trumpet fill the sound to its rafters, recalling the pomp and bombast of The Rolling Stones or the earth-shocking cacophony of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Chris Gestrin on keys, Sean Nelson on drums, and sisters Camille Henderson and Saffron Henderson on backing vocals complete the patina on which Gord’s lyrics dance.
“Lustre Parfait” is available now as a digital single via Arts & Crafts. A forthcoming album is on the way in 2023 with more details to be announced.