In an age where the digital download has furthered the disconnect between fan and artist, David Blair has come up with a unique way to bridge the gap.
The Port Coquitlam singer/songwriter is poised to release his first pieces of new music in three years, and while one album will be released in a traditional format - online and via CD - the other will see fan engagement re-defined.
Blair's 15-song, full-length, Stay in Touch, will only be available by staying true to its title.
"The album won't be available online or digitally anywhere - you have to stay in touch with me to get it," he said. "You've got to either come to a live show to get it, or if you e-mail or send me a special request, I will then mail a copy out to you. It's my way of staying in touch with everybody, being personal with my fans and saying, 'This is from me to you.'"
Akin to the sounds of Jason Mraz and John Mayer, both Stay in Touch and Blair's new five-song EP, I Hate Liking You, will be released on Aug. 10, representing his first new offerings since his 2009 album, Things Left Unsaid.
That's not to say the PoCo native has been inactive for the past three years, as he's released digital singles - including last year's Vancouver Canuck call to arms We Are Canucks - and performed locally at a host of venues.
However, a close to four-month tour in 2009 to New York State and back put the brakes on new songs being written. Having travelled 15,000 kilometres during that tour, Blair burnt himself out literally and physically.
The wear and tear of performing, let alone the cross-continental drives by himself, left the PoCo resident with severe sciatic nerve pain and consistent muscle spasms.
"It was a long time to drive by yourself - I wasn't able to keep my sanity and that's why it took me three years to release new music," he said, chuckling. "It was definitely good in that I still keep in touch with a lot of fans and friends that I met along the way.
But there's no doubt, it was pretty heavy."
As a result of that grind, Blair took the better part of two years off to focus on resting, recuperating and re-evaluating.
After a change in diet and lifestyle, he re-emerged from his time off refreshed. Outside of his consistent live gigs, Blair also moved into the realm of private shows, weddings and corporate events, all of which have made his musician's lifestyle self-sustaining.
A perpetually active and upbeat person by nature, Blair used the relative ups and downs of the last three years of his life as inspiration for his two new albums.
Whether it's his EP or full-length, Blair delves into relationships - both the good and the bad - and other life experiences he's faced. Through it all, not much is left to the imagination.
"I think of my lyrics as cathartic and therapeutic in almost like a Rodney Dangerfield kind of way," he said.
"If you can laugh at yourself, I think you're on your way to having a pretty good life. I used to take myself very seriously and it just wasn't very fun, honestly. I can laugh at myself and write about it and that's all part of what I do."
Blair will be fêting the release of both albums with an album release party Friday, Aug. 10 at the Electric Owl in Vancouver. A free copy of I Hate Liking You will be given to all those who pay cover ($15 in advance, $20 at the door), and the show kicks off at 8 p.m.
For more info, see www.davidblairsongs.com.