Murray A. Lightburn of The Dears Announces New Album, Shares Video for New Song “Dumpster Gold”

Jan 19, 2023

By Mark Redfern

Photography by Richmond Lam


Murray A. Lightburn, frontman of Montreal’s The Dears, has announced a new solo album, Once Upon a Time in Montreal, and shared its first single, “Dumpster Gold,” via a music video. Once Upon a Time in Montreal is due out March 31 via Dangerbird. Jean-Marc Abela directed the “Dumpster Gold” video. Watch it below, followed by the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as Lightburn’s upcoming tour dates.

Once Upon a Time in Montreal is inspired by the 2020 death of Lightburn’s father, who was previously a jazz saxophonist before finding religion. Lightburn’s father was originally from Belize and moved to Montreal to reconnect with his childhood sweetheart. Lightburn’s parents were married for 56 years, until his father passed away in April 2020 in a Quebec nursing home (he had been living with Alzheimer’s for a while).

Lightburn had this to say about “Dumpster Gold” in a press release: “About a year or so after my old man passed, my mom called and said, ‘Murray, I’ve made a big decision: I’m selling the house.’ She’d been there for 50 years. We were the only family that ever lived in it, one of many identical houses in a section of Brossard, Quebec. On our way out, we sifted through everything; most of it was going to the dump. There were many worthless treasures that were meaningful only to us. A couple of things now sit around my house. My father wasn’t an expressive man to me. I am left with these fragments to piece together a connection to him.”

Lightburn says that his father was “almost a complete stranger” to him. “I could almost count the conversations we had, and none of them were very meaningful,” he says. “I had to deduce that our happy moments were listening to Expos games together. I never knew how he felt about my career or the things I’d achieved—all of which I got from him.”

Howard Bilerman (Leonard Cohen, The Weather Station, Godspeed You! Black Emperor) produced Once Upon a Time in Montreal, which a press release says finds Lightburn in “full crooner mode, distilling the passion and intensity of The Dears into gentle arrangements that feature an orchestral section, drawing on late-’60s, early-’70s folk/jazz/pop: Dionne Warwick, Nick Drake, Bill Withers, Serge Gainsbourg, Al Green, etc. While the influences might be obvious, the end result is singular and without peer.”

Once Upon a Time in Montreal features Dears drummer Jeff Luciani and some Montreal jazz players, chief among them is Frank Lozano. Lightburn says Lozano’s sax solo on the title track would especially please his late father. “I knew it was a 400-foot home run,” says Lightburn on his reaction upon hearing the solo. “I knew it was something that would hold. I knew also at that moment how much my dad would love this record. Even if he never told me, I know that it would be on repeat in his car if he was still with us and driving around. That was my motivation—to make something I know he would love. It’s not indie rock, you know?”

Lightburn’s previous solo album, Hear Me Out, came out in 2019 via Dangerbird. The Dears’ last album, Lovers Rock, came out in 2020 via Dangerbird. The band are led by Lightburn and his wife Natalia Yanchak.

Once Upon a Time in Montreal Tracklist:

01. Dumpster Gold
02. No New Deaths Today
03. In The Kingdom Of Heaven
04. The Only One I Want To Hear
05. Oh But My Heart Has Never Been Dark
06. Reaching Out For Love
07. Once Upon A Time In Montreal
08. Girl You’ve Got To Let Me Go

Murray A. Lightburn Tour Dates:

02/03 – Galway, IE @ Roisin Dubh
02/04 – Dublin, IE @ Whelan’s
02/05 – Cork, IE @ Cyprus Avenue
02/07 – Belfast, UK @ Ulster Hall
02/08 – Glasgow, UK @ King Tuts Wah Wah Hut
02/09 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
02/10 – Manchester, UK @ The Deaf Institute
02/11-12 – London, UK @ Lafayette

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