There are all kinds of lemons that Kevin Hearn tries to make lemonade out of on his solo debut, "Cloud Maintenance." The good news is that it takes a lot of lemons to get any kind of substantial amount of juice - something like eight of those puckering suckers to make just a single cup - so the more you have, the better. The other piece of good news for the man who can claim the day job of Barenaked Ladies keyboardist is that he grows these lemons, or tends to them, in a grey garden that he keeps on his property.
It's a place that one imagines as a retreat, as a parcel within a gated community, where he's able to go and clear his mind. He's able to get away from the worst of it and just be there - safe amongst the covering and his lemon trees - to lick wounds and collect himself for a second.
Much of "Cloud Maintenance" revolves around the theme of loneliness and loss. It's without a doubt that there are regrets swimming around in his head, hammering on it sometime, but mostly just lingering softly. He's waiting for perfect moments, for the return of special people. He's waiting and waiting. It's what he seems to be doing the most of on the record, biding his time until all is well again and the pieces have lined back up. Hearn comes across as a tender romantic, as a writer tantalized by the unspoken words and those looks that could have meant nothing or everything. Either way, they burn in him like hot coals. They are what make his motor run. He throws on his long johns, sits through cold winters, waiting by a fire that burns on hope and all of the hot coals that he keeps stoking.