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It’s not often that one gets the opportunity to go back in time and do something differently. This desire to venture back in time is usually to right a wrong and shape a different outcome. On his 9th album, Islands, Justin Rutledge is getting the chance for a “do over,” but it’s not to right a wrong, and it does not stem from a sense of regret. “I look back and view past albums as bookmarks in my life—each composed of a span of 2 or 3 years—I was a different person at the release of each album,” says Rutledge. “Recording Islands required a stroll down memory lane, for better or worse, and shaking hands with the people I used to be.

Islands is a retrospective, an opportunity to revisit a rich catalogue that spans 8 albums, and re-record them in the way they were conceived: alone, with minimal accompaniment, as if you’re sitting in the kitchen with the songwriter as the songs are composed. Recorded over 3 days at Toronto’s Union Sound with friend and collaborator Chris Stringer, the album is mostly Rutledge, alone with his guitar in the live room. Friends Tom Juhas and Aaron Comeau dropped by, lending a hand on guitar and piano, respectively. Efforts were made to maintain a spacious musical arrangement for the songs—it was kept casual, capturing the essence of late-night writing sessions.