BRY WEBB with COEUR DE PIRATE at Massey Hall (178 Victoria), Saturday (May 31), 8 pm. $18.94. RTH.
"We nicknamed it the ‘Sorry, goodnight' tour," says Bry Webb, laughing.
It doesn't exactly scream rock 'n' roll, but it's Webb's longest stretch away from home since becoming a dad.
"There are lots of moments of homesickness and, y'know, guilt," he explains over the phone from somewhere between Indianapolis and Chicago, the final destination of a nine-date trip with Chad VanGaalen and Cousins.
"My wife is a saint," he adds.
But it's a labour of love that takes him on the road. Free Will (Idée Fixe), the second solo album from the Constantines singer, continues in the mellow country-ish vein of 2011's Provider. This time, though, there are subtle dynamic builds; Rich Burnett's lap steel plays perfectly off Aaron Goldstein's pedal steel, and avant hurdy-gurdy man Ben Grossman provides beautiful John Cale-style distortion on Let's Get Through Today.
The album's title refers in part to its thematic thread. "Will, in the sense of free will or wilfulness, appears in (I think) every song on the record," says Webb. "It wasn't intentional, but it was something that was at the front of my mind."
It's also a nod to Constantines bandmate Will Kidman, who's been living on Haida Gwaii in BC, but came to the Guelph area last October for his brother's wedding.
"We had this idea to do a feedback solo on AM Blues, and the only person I could imagine doing it was Will," says Webb.
"We went to Toronto, got a few guitars with whammy bars and just did feedback solos for half an hour. It was a perfect reconnection and celebration, and that's part of the reason why the record's called Free Will."
The Constantines missed their 10th anniversary last year in what Webb calls "true Cons form," and are celebrating their 11th instead with appearances scheduled at Field Trip, SappyFest, the Peterborough Folk Fest and Arboretum.
Accordingly, Webb's been maxing out this time away to hone his skills for both projects.
"All of us have been practising [for the reunion] on our own," says Webb. "I've had my headphones on and my electric guitar in the backstage area, trying to learn Cons songs again."