John Hewitt moved from Toronto to Edmonton in 2018, and the change of scenery immediately influenced his output as a singer/songwriter. Although Hewitt is comfortable traveling alone and playing solo, his work has expanded along with settling into his home studio.
The outcome can now be heard on Broken Rebels, a nine-song collection out on May 24th, 2023 that Hewett says comes “closest to achieving the perfect balance between Folk and Rock” that he’s always pursued in his work.
My last record, Life Blood And Tears, was written and recorded within a one-week period, but it was a solo record, which didn’t require a lot of production. With Broken Rebels, I wanted to give myself a little more time. This album allowed me to add more to songs that I felt could use it, while conversely stepping back and letting other tracks breathe. I’d like to think that this might be my recording method moving forward. I don’t feel anything was under or over-produced. That’s not easy to do, and there’s no guarantees it will happen again.
Supporting Hewitt on Broken Rebels are drummer Jordan Dempster and upright bassist Konnor Miskiman, with mixing handled by Brendan Lyons. Overall, the entire process took about a month, and was finished in time for Hewitt to embark on his Spring/Summer 2023 tour schedule.
He adds that much of the album was inspired by his ever-expanding circuit in the U.S:
My experiences touring in the States have actually been really good, and it’s led me to write more about the beautiful American landscapes I’ve seen and the people I’ve met there. In a sense, this album was written as a love letter to the country that has taken me under its wing and given me a place to perform my songs. Of course I play in Canada too, but I plan to be Stateside more frequently this year and moving forward.
Among the songs on Broken Rebels that emerged out of these travels are “City Lights (North Country Girl),” which paints a “portrait of a Midwestern girl looking to reinvent herself in the big city.” Hewitt also tips his hat to John Prine on the new single “Before The Well Runs Dry.”