Test your tolerance for honesty with Young Novelists

by Becky Upham, Citizen Times

The Young Novelists

The Young Novelists play Isis Restaurant and Music Hall at 7 p.m. April 8.

“You can’t handle the truth.” That line, delivered by Jack Nicholson in the movie “A Few Good Men,” has become something of a punchline, but many of us would readily admit it — we can’t handle it, nor do we want to. When it comes to delivering or receiving, truth can be … well, overrated.

When people begin a sentence with, “If I can be perfectly honest,” my first instinct is to go running in the other direction. If a documentary is described as “unflinchingly honest” in the synopsis, there’s no way it’s ending up in my Netflix queue. In my opinion, truth is just another one of those things that is best in moderation.

The average person tells lies all the time, even if they don’t realize it. Studies have shown the average person lies about three times in a 10-minute period.

It’s interesting to note how the nature of these fibs falls along gender lines. Women lie more often to make the listener feel good whereas men lie more often to make themselves seem better or more competent. These kinds of lies are called prosocial, actually viewed positively — they keep the wheels of society running smoothly.

Psychologists have also concluded that deception of oneself, or delusion, can be positive (in moderation). Most happy people overestimate themselves — their attractiveness, intelligence and social standing. All you self-knowledge seekers beware — if you succeed, chances are, you’ll end up depressed.

So given all this, you can understand why I would view a group like The Young Novelists with a high degree of suspicion. The bio on the band’s website indicates a serious over-romantic honesty: “Through their rich but rustic sound, Toronto roots-rock outfit The Young Novelists deliver a dose of honesty in audible form.”

It continues: “Honesty and transparency. They’re at the very core of ‘made us strangers’ (the band’s most recent album), from the lyrics to the music to the way it was recorded, and that’s sure to foster closer connections between The Young Novelists and their current and future followers.”

Listening to The Young Novelists music, I was relieved to find that my fears were unfounded. Though honest in both content and delivery (many takes from their album involved no pitch correction, and some cuts were actually captured entirely live off the floor) the music doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself or the least bit depressed. This is folk-rock at its best, and truly happy music.

The band began as Graydon James & The Young Novelists, a six-piece outfit, but gradually James began to tour more as a duo with his wife, Laura Spink. It made sense to drop the name “Graydon James” and The Young Novelists was born.

The band benefits from the recent comeback of a less polished and more rootsy sound in the music industry. They could be just one “Ho Hey” away from being the next Lumineers; James and Spink share vocal duties, and the feel of its music is similar to bands like The Head and the Heart and Civil Wars.

The group is wrapping up some online fundraising that helped finance its second album, “made us strangers,” set for an April 28 release. The band is known in its homeland of Canada for the warmth and quality of their live performances. This intimate show — only 50 tickets will be sold — at the Isis is sure to be a treat.


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of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and of Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters.

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