If ever a band was well named, it’s The Heartbroken.
The four Toronto-based band members were recently nominated for a Canadian Country Music Association Group of the Year Award for singing raw songs about regret, loneliness and — of course — heartbreak.
“What I really love is the opportunity to tell a story through music,” said the group’s singer Damhnait (pronounced DAV-net) Doyle, who isn’t shy about drawing on emotionally draining experiences as subject matter for songs.
While she’s now happily married, Doyle contends her life is littered with enough romantic detritus “for about 18 more records.”
“Sadly, there’s infinite material. There’s no shortage of raw emotions to inspire new work . . .”
The group that performs at The Hideout, in Gasoline Alley south of Red Deer on Thursday, is perhaps best known for the tune Seventeen, off the debut album, Tonight Tonight. It’s about a person whose life has gone off the rails thinking back to youthful hopes and aspirations.
When Doyle was 17, she had just cut her first solo album and was poised to leave her native Newfoundland for wider musical horizons in Toronto. While she’s stayed the music business over the next couple of decades, the 35-year-old singer said, “I’m in a totally different place now than where I thought I would be at 17 — but I think it’s a better place.”
For one thing, she’s no longer a solo act, having hooked up with fellow musicians Blake Manning, Peter Fusco, and Stuart Cameron, who share her sense of cutting to the emotional bone in songwriting.
“We kind of found each other as a band,” said Doyle, who believes their shared philosophy is to side-step “slickness” to reach “a viseral place, as opposed to a cerebral place.”
By writing about sometimes painful emotions, Doyle believes The Heartbroken instantly connects with listeners who have been in the same dark places.
“A lot of people relate to the stuff we’ve been through.”
For instance, Save Yourself is a story song with searing lyrics that particularly resonate with Doyle. It’s based on a female friend of hers who tried to be a “fixer,” but found out, through getting involved in an abusive relationship, that not everyone can be saved.
Although Doyle grew up in a theatrical family listening to the music of Willie Nelson and George Jones, The Heartbroken never specifically set out to be a country band, she said — yet the group is connecting with a country audience, perhaps because of the emotional content of its songs.
Getting the 2011 CCMA nomination is “incredibly exciting. It was one of those things that absolutely thrilled us,” said Doyle, who also looks forward to going to Nashville later this year. The Heartbroken plans to draw on more hard-luck tales for its second album.
— copyright Red Deer Advocate