One of Jeremy Allingham’s prized family heirlooms isn’t a precious piece of jewelry, or antique or sports memorabilia.
It’s a song.
When his wife was pregnant with their first child, Allingham began writing down a melody and the little moments he anticipated having with his newborn son.
But when — to their surprise — a girl was born, Allingham changed the name of his ballad, Cowboy, to Cowgirl instead.
“I even changed some of the lyrics to actually reflect what happened. One of the lyrics was ‘tears of joy fell when I touched your face,’ but what actually happened in the delivery room is I held her hand and cried. So I changed it to ‘tears of joy fell when I touched your hand,’” said Allingham, 36, a Langley-born musician who now calls Vancouver home.
“It was weird, it was like this anticipation of becoming a parent and how much I would relish that and love my kid, and then the realization of what it actually was. It wasn’t too far off from what I thought, but I changed the song a bit to reflect that. And it’s pretty cool, because any time that song comes on, Maliyah, who is now four, turns and says, ‘Oh this is my favourite because it’s about me.’”
Cowgirl is track number eight on Allingham’s newly released album, Run Wild, and may make an appearance at his upcoming acoustic show at Water Shed Arts Cafe in Walnut Grove on June 22.
The second full length record Allingham has produced as a solo artist (not including the many others he has created with various bands over the years), Run Wild marks a milestone in his music career.
“It’s an album where I really found my voice as a songwriter, and it’s the most confident I’ve ever been,” Allingham said.
“It’s kind of unabashed. It’s got big epic rock songs, it’s got subtle art rock tunes, and its even got a lullaby ballad to my little daughter. So it kind of runs the gamut, and it represents who I am as an artist right now and I’m really proud of it.”
Featuring a mix of both old and new songs — all written by Allingham — this album was a collaborative effort by his producer Jesse Gander at Rain City Recorders (who just won a Juno award for his work with metal band Anciients), drummer Alex Glassford, keyboardist Josh Denny-Keys, and close friend/ former bandmate Daniel Wesley, another well known folk-rock artist from Langley.
“I think I was able to let go of some of the control that I’ve clung to in the past, which as an independent solo artist, that’s kind of your thing,” Allingham said. “You control the process, it’s your song, it’s how you want it to go. And that’s cool and fulfilling and everything, but what’s then even more fulfilling is opening it up and working with musicians and collaborators — who I really love and trust — and really listening to what they had to say about it and their input. And realizing almost certainly that the passion and love and expertise that they bring to the songs can only make them better.”
Allingham, a graduate of Brookswood Secondary, has watched his music evolve since he first began playing in a punk rock band at the age of 14. From booking all ages shows in the Fraser Valley, to now playing venues like the Commodore Ballroom, this experience is reflected on his album.
“If you listen to the album, you wouldn’t listen to it and say it’s punk rock music at all,” he said. “But you can definitely hear the moments where the punk influences chime through with some real straight ahead song writing and four on the floor beats and rhythms — just that old simplicity and energy and raw power. I definitely think that still finds its way in, and I love that, I love being able to tap into that.”
On top of producing his own indie album and raising two young kids, Maliyah, 4, and Tariq, 16 months, Allingham also works full time as a journalist with CBC Radio. Not surprising, he finds his two worlds often collide.
“I think the common thread between music and songwriting, and journalism is storytelling,” he said.
“In both cases what I’m trying to do is take an idea, or take a feeling or a concept, and communicate that in a way that resonates with people. In music, that’s with some catchy hooks and chords, and big drums beats and great lyrics. And in journalism, that’s with some really incisive writing, and critical thinking and great turns of phrase.
“And also sometimes in the subject matters, too, because I cover some of these stories so closely and so often, they find their way in my music. For instance, in Feel the Burn — that’s track four on the record — it’s all about the housing crisis, and that’s because we cover the housing crisis all the time.”
While Allingham’s shows tend to be high energy rock ‘n roll, he’s stripping it down for his Langley performance. Playing with Denny-Keys, another Langley musician, Allingham said the concert will be intimate and very melody and harmony heavy.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in Langley because I don’t get to all that often, but when I do it’s always a great crowd, and I’m always happy to be there and see a lot of familiar faces,” he said.
Tickets are $12 and are available online on Eventbrite. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m.
For more info, visit www.watershedartscafe.com.