What’s revealed when you archive the quiet moments during time spent on the road? For Adam Sturgeon, the result is a crystalline glimpse into the unseen — and gratifying — moments of personal renovation we rarely pay attention to; where a blown out tire incites calm rather than rage, and moments of frustration invite grace instead of judgment. This is the vantage of Surely Travel, the newest album by Status/Non-Status, the evolving musical project of the Anishinaabe artist and community worker, and a close-knit group of collaborators.
Exploring their expansive, sky-sweeping folk rock from a fresh angle, Status/Non-Status drive head-on into a natural complement to the earth-shaking sonic landscapes they’re known for. A loose concept album written as a travel log of animals in flight, the record brims with open air reflections, while gazing out of a blurry window and acknowledging what it can’t see clearly. Blending the melted psychedelic gauze of distorted Americana, with thundering flashes of post rock, Sturgeon implements softness generously. At the core, remembering that lyrics that break through universally sing with clarity.
Recorded over 10 days at Deadpan Studios in Sudbury, the goal was to chisel things down down to the bone. Where past records built atmosphere out of heavy swaths of sound, overlaid with harmonies, the band opted for a single vocal take, a Wurlitzer, and ran a $100 classical guitar through an amp. Written in the company of others, whether from the back of a van, or with a baby on the other side of the door, Sturgeon wrote sections of the record in near silence — whispered lyrics and muted bass riffs that started as lullabies, only to be blown out later. It interlaces the album’s material composition with its central inspiration: the allure of touring from coast to coast, and the reality of over-indexing on time spent in an unreliable, stuffy van; the wrenching sacrifice of time away from loved ones, in favour of only seeing a gas station and vacant roads for hours on end.
Where his celebrated Polaris Prize Long Listed album Warrior Down (2019), and its Socan Songwriting Prize nominated follow-up the 1,2,3,4,500 Years EP (2020) required a mighty sonic landscape to fit its lofty reckonings of nationhood, trauma and familial memory, Surely Travel tightens its scope, but not its ambition. Sturgeon’s sophomore album feels closely connected to Sturgeon’s acclaimed collaborative work with Daniel Monkman (Zoon) as Ombiigizi which made the 2022 Polaris Prize Shortlist and softened the blow.. On Surely Travel, Sturgeon peers inward to examine the self within its surroundings, and to better understand identity and indigeneity from the smallest spaces or ordinary experiences. Conjuring the awe of sunshowers through the rearview mirror, Surely Travel intentionally doesn’t over-promise optimism, but rather celebrates the small wins of a human-sized approach to resilience and healing.