Kevin Closs is an independent arts professional and arts educator from Manitoulin Island. Since 1990 he has worked as a recording and performing artist releasing eleven independent albums and played concerts, festivals and clubs across the country. Kevin’s third album, Surrender, featured two hit singles, “Erica” and “Home”, which made the Canadian Adult Contemporary and Country Music charts respectively. He has also toured with multiple Juno Award winner and country music legend Charlie Major.
Many of Kevin’s songs have become part of northern Ontario’s cultural landscape. “The Camp Song”, “Build Me A Bridge”, his solo guitar arrangement of “O Canada” and many others are as familiar to northerners as jack pines and loons. Kevin has also honed his skills as a producer and engineer recording his music and the music of other northern musicians in his own digital recording studio. His music productions have been featured on the television programs Hard Rock Medical, Survivorman, The Jane Show and in the films Niagara Motel and Snowshoes & Solitudes.
An accomplished educator he is a sought-after arts presenter and workshop facilitator. His contributions to the northern Ontario arts community won him the Jackie Washington Award in 2002 and the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Exceptional Achievement Award in 2016. He has garnered support from the Ontario Arts Council from which he received grants in 1996, 2002 and 2016. Since 2014 Kevin has worked as a presenter and guide with expedition cruise companies in the polar regions. In 2016 he continued to explore the world spending three months in the United Kingdom, Norway, Svalbard, Greenland and Nunavut working with G Adventures and Adventure Canada.
Album Review, All for a Song (2014)
By Travis Lausch
Northern Ontario singer-songwriter Kevin Closs returns with his eighth full-length album (ninth if you count his compilation album, Singer, Songwriter, Etc.), All For A Song, which represents a return to form of sorts, as well as an experiment, for the often eclectic folk writer.
One thing worth noting about this record is that Kevin, who wears many creative hats and shows an incredible versatility in his performances, has done something in terms of production that seems almost impossible: he's let it all out, and yet reigned it all in at the same time. While the man has usually relegated more rock-oriented material to his band The Nobs, we get no fewer than three rockers on the record: the drum-propelled "Spirit Song", and bluesy rockers "Over You" and "New Jesus". But folk music is Kevin's usual trade, and he doesn't stray too far from his usual territory elsewhere on the record. "New Man", a remake of a song from his very first record, however ironically sounding very fresh and relevant. Acoustic guitar permeates spiritual folk numbers like "Christmas Is A Start" and a cover of John Newlands' "Jesus Shoes". Musically speaking, the songs retain very simple structures and sounds, but there's a certain depth that should appeal to musicians and fans of all styles of music. There's something for everyone here.
The material here ranges lyrically from the light-hearted hilarity of the remake of The Nobs' "Poor Ron" to tales of the shipwrecked Great Lakes schooner "Julia B. Merrill", to ruminations on loss, spirituality, and the struggle to live your dream. Nothing ever feels cheesy or overwrought, but the emotional and spiritual depth of the material on this record is a true testament to the creativity on display.
Production-wise, Kevin hits the mark and then some. Every instrument sounds crystal clear, the vocals are airy and open, the sparse arrangements give every sound ample room to breathe and give a real air of authenticity to the sound. It's an album that demands to be listened to closely. There are even a few clever production tricks, including a more basic production arrangement for "Poor Ron", just as he had done on The Nobs II, and the Steven Wilson-esque guitar swells in "Spirit Song"
At times, All For A Song wraps you up in a warm, cozy blanket of gorgeous melodies and washes of ambience. At other times, the record stomps away like any classic rock album. Edgy yet subtle, classic yet contemporary, simple yet deeper than the Marianas. That pretty much sums up this amazingly unique record from one of Northern Ontario's most versatile and thought-provoking musicians.