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The Young NovelistsThe Young Novelists create contemporary folk songs that marry their effortless harmonies with darkly poetic lyrics and exquisitely crafted hooks. Their third album In City & Country features songs about 10 small towns in Ontario, and has been described as “a lush-sounding feast” (Penguin Eggs) and “emotional, melodic music that variously reminds me of the Jayhawks and Richard and Linda Thompson.” (No Depression) Their previous album landed them a Canadian Folk Music Award for New/Emerging Artist, a nomination for Vocal Group of the Year, and multiple songwriting awards. They have toured across Canada, the United States, and in Europe, often with their young son in tow. Their signature show features confessional storytelling about their songs and travels, singalongs, and the unique sound of bowed glockenspiel.


  • Finalists at the 2016 NewSong Music Competition
  • Winners of the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Award for New/Emerging Artist of the Year
  • Nominated for two 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards: New/Emerging Artist of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year
  • Winners of the 2015 Grassy Hill CT Folk Songwriting Competition
  • Winners of the 2015 Colleen Peterson Songwriting award for their song “couldn’t be any worse”
  • Toured Canada, the US and Europe (the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria)
  • Winners of the 2010 Galaxie Rising-Star Award (at the Burlington Sound of Music Festival)
  • The album ‘made us strangers’ ranked #11 on the 2015 Folk-Roots (Canada) Stingray Music (formerly Galaxie) chart
  • Peaked at #2 on the Folk/Roots/Blues chart (Earshot) and #18 overall for 2015
  • Spent 17 weeks total on the Earshot charts


back to the hard times

come round again

hear your voice

couldn’t be any worse

in your defense

always make the mistake

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Click here to request album download

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Two of a Kind

Back To The Hard Times

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The Young Novelists The Young Novelists InCity&Country_AlbumCover

Photos by Jen Squires

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When they first met, Graydon James and Laura Spink had no idea that they would be married one day — much less touring the world together as The Young Novelists. Since the band’s inception in 2009, they’ve played stages across the U.S. and Canada, released three full-length albums, won numerous awards and continuous praise for their unmatched, effortless harmonies. But for their new album in city & country, the Toronto-based band decided to travel out of the city and in to small-town Ontario in order to connect the two places. After years of firsthand experience combined with historical research, James and Spink wrote over 30 songs inspired by a dozen Canadian towns. From that set, in city & country was born — a collection of ten songs that tell the universal stories of both parallels while highlighting the differences, similarities, and everything in-between.

They both grew up in Ontario; Spink in Peterborough, James in Verona, a small eastern town with a population of a mere 1,800. They both moved to Waterloo for university, where they met via community theatre; but it wasn’t until James decided to refocus his career from drummer to frontman that they combined their talent musically. “I had written a bunch of songs and recorded them in my basement, mostly for posterity,” says James, “I asked Laura to sing harmony on some of the songs and it instantly had this magical vibe.” Shortly after James released his solo album Goodnight, Young Novelist (2009), he realized that in order to perform live, he needed to assemble a band to match the record’s full sound. After recruiting some musicians he had met over the years and touring the east coast as a six-piece, the band decided to stay together, becoming Graydon James & The Young Novelists. Between 2011 and 2012, they released two albums: live at dublin st. church (2011), and in the year you were born (2012). However, it became clear that Spink was taking on more lead vocal duties. By the time they recorded their next album, made us strangers (2015), it made the most sense to simply shorten their name to The Young Novelists.

While their upcoming album in city & country will technically be their fourth album, it is their third studio album and second under the current moniker. Their last record made us strangers landed them a Canadian Folk Music Award for New/Emerging Artist, a Vocal Group of the Year nomination, and reached top 20 on !earshot’s and Stingray Music’s (formerly Galaxie) folk charts. The same year, the band won the Grassy Hill Connecticut Folk Songwriting competition and James received the Ontario Art Council’s prestigious Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award. But 2016 was an even bigger year for the two — Spink quit her job as a scientist, they packed their things (and their five year old son Simon), and went on a massive North American tour. After over 100 shows, including a 10-week stint on the road, the pair returned to Toronto to start working on in city & country, drawing inspiration from their travels.

Set for release on May 4, 2018, The Young Novelists recorded in city & country with the help of JUNO-winning producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Leonard Cohen, The Wooden Sky). Recorded at Bilerman’s Hotel2Tango studios in Montreal, the duo returns with their classic him-and-her vocals, with James playing acoustic guitar and Spink on percussion and vibraphone. For the album’s fullness, they enlisted the help of bassist Derrick Brady, drummer Rory Calexico, and guitarist John Law.

“It was a new experience – being away from home and recording,” Spink says, adding, “It was magical to be in a beautiful, new (to us) city, spending our time and creative energy in a great studio, working with fun and fantastic people who were equal parts talented and devoted to the project.”

The album opens with “Two Of A Kind” a sentimental ballad inspired by the town of Goderich; keyboardist Jeffrey Louch shines on the almost-love song that tells the tale of a woman trying to choose between two men. The album continues with the delicate, mellow “Back To The Hard Times,” but this time, focusing on Spink’s vocals, perfectly complemented by violinist Lana Tomlin (noted for her work with Canadian band Stars). The song is inspired by Ridgeway, a town on the shores of Lake Erie, and compares two very different kinds of sadness: the failure of an old amusement park and a friend’s relationship ending. “This sort of thing happens in lots of small towns – an industry is built up and torn down. We tried to combine aspects of the grandiose industrialist dreamer who started the Crystal Beach Amusement Park, and the small-town kids who tried their best and got their hearts broken there.” The album takes a leap on track 5 with the upbeat, energy-packed “Come Round Again”. Written about a Bonnie & Clyde-style heist in Halton Hills, the song’s adrenaline draws from a guitar-heavy intro and super catchy hook — it’s a challenge to not airdrum along to this one.

The title track, “City & Country”, ties the album together in more ways than one; listening wise, the track brings together the entire studio band (including cellist Justin Wright). Inspired by Toronto, Waterloo, and his hometown of Verona, James’ reminisces on crucial times and places in his life. “This is really a song about my experiences living in a major city and a small town, and the fact that I think there are more similarities than differences.” No matter where you’ve lived, the dichotomy that exists on in city & country is universal; it’s not just a memoir of the duo’s experiences or the histories of small towns, it’s about appreciating where you’ve been and where you’re at — and finding the good and bad that lies within both ♦

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“This is emotional, melodic music that variously reminds me of the Jayhawks and Richard and Linda Thompson.”
~ No Depression

“Reminiscent of Canadian heavyweights such as k.d. lang, Cowboy Junkies, the Sadies and, in a way, Bruce Cockburn.”
~ PopMatters

“euphoric burst of folk rock”
~ Atwood Magazine

“Like the Decemberists but rockier and less quirky, like Americana but quirkier and rockier, a talented Toronto outfit.”
~ rock nyc

“beautiful, soaring, rootsy Canadiana”
~ herohill

“unerringly classy country-rock”
~ Toronto Life

“unpretentious brilliance”
– Exclaim! Magazine

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Stage Plots

The Young Novelists (FULL BAND) 
The Young Novelists (DUO) 

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Heart Roots Music
Liz DiSessa
+1 508-274-2951


What’s The Story?
Beth Cavanagh
+1 416-803-7685

PUBLICITY (United States)

The Press House
Maria Ivey
+1 215-370-9498


Kari Estrin Consulting
Kari Estrin
+1 615-262-0883


Balsam Pier Music
Amie Therrien
+1 416.788.2643

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We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department
of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and of Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters.

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