Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Fun fact: As a teenager, Doucet played in a blues band with his father, whom he hadn’t seen since his parents split when he was a child. “When I talk about it, it sounds like an after-school special; I feel like I’m pulling out a bag of puppies, but it was neat,” he says.
Why he’s worth watching: At 19, Doucet started touring and recording off-and-on as Sarah McLachlan’s guitarist; since then he’s been recording and gigging with numerous artists and has been on the road with Josh Rouse and Kathleen Edwards.
For fans of: Ryan Adams, Sondre Lerche, Randy Newman
While a broken heart probably never figured into singer/songwriter Luke Doucet’s career plans, the experience provided fodder for most of his new album, Broken (and Other Rogue States). Rife with references to cigarettes, alcohol and general debauchery, Broken—his third release—wryly and candidly chronicles the end-of-relationship state of mind while blending elements of country, blues, surf rock and more.
“I’ve cast myself as this Bukowski-esque character, which is a gross overstatement, but even if I have the smallest demon, I’ll wrestle with it forever,” says the 32-year-old Doucet, who has recently kicked coffee and cigarettes.
Doucet composed at least half the album nursing cranberry juice and soda at Ted’s Collision (a bar near his old residence in Toronto) after a period of heavy drinking. “Stopping was such a change of paradigm for me, and that factored into my songwriting,” he says. Consequently, the album takes an old-school approach: two sides. “It’s a bit of a generalization, but the first half of the record was written when I was drinking; the second half when I was completely sober.” Still, he maintains, “my problems were more existential than alcoholic.” Side one features the first songs he wrote, including the jangly single “Broken,” one of the most perfect dis songs in recent memory.
Now that he’s beyond the trauma and engaged to singer Melissa McClelland, it’s back to work. “I really want to create something positive. The hardest record to make and listen to is a happy one. Don’t worry though,” he adds with a chuckle, “if it’s colossally embarrassing, I won’t finish it.”