Bob Dylan and the Band have their Basement Tapes, and Jill Zmud has hers.
The Ottawa-based singer-songwriter is currently finishing her second album (Small Matters of Life and Death), which takes inspiration from demo recordings made by her uncle, Ed Clynton. The crackly reel-to-reel tapes from the early 1970s were discovered by Zmud in the cellar of her parents’ house in Saskatoon.
Clynton was a member of the late-sixties pop band Witness Inc., before splitting to pursue a solo career. While on tour in 1974, the singer-guitarist died in a car accident in Northern Ontario. His tapes gathered dust for decades, until Zmud happened across them and resurrected a pair of the tunes for her forthcoming record. (One of them, the elegiac road song New Jersey Turnpike, can heard at soundcloud.com, while the story of Small Matters of Life and Death is documented at Zmud’s crowd-sourcing site.
The album is expected to arrive a few weeks after Zmud delivers her first baby in mid-April. One of her uncle’s songs that won’t make it onto the album is Frank Jones, about a drifter who “left behind the precious things that are not too often found.” Lost and found, life and death – these things have a way of working themselves out.