In 2013, Justin Rutledge released Valleyheart, his first for new label Outside Music. The album went on to win the Juno Award for Best Roots Album. Justin followed Valleyheart with the critically acclaimed Daredevil, his homage to Canada's Tragically Hip. Then, Justin Rutledge disappeared.
It's not as dramatic as it sounds, but it was time for Justin to get away. The Toronto stalwart sold his house and moved out to the eastern shores of Lake Ontario. He restored and renovated his Victorian home as well as an adjacent hunting cabin, which he named Little Ben. Justin decided to get off the road, focus on his life and take a casual approach to his craft. There had been little downtime since the release of his acclaimed debut No Never Alone in 2005—a couple of Juno Award nominations for The Devil On A Bench In Stanley Park (2006) and The Early Widows (2010), world tours which included performances with Dolly Parton and Blue Rodeo, among others. Justin also took to the stage as an actor, appearing in the stage adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's Divisadero. It was one of the many collaborations between Justin and the award-winning author, who also contributed some lyrics to the song ‘Be A Man'. Justin also composed and starred in Morris Panych's Canadian Stage production of The Arsonists in 2012, and began developing a film with the Governor General's Award-winning playwright Hannah Moscovitch.
Leaving Toronto as a home was monumental for Justin: "Toronto is where I was born, but for some reason it became an increasingly foreign place to me. I knew I had to leave the city." The move prompted Rutledge to record his next album outside of Ontario, which was something he had never attempted before: "I've recorded in LA with my band the Early Winters, but I hadn't yet recorded a solo album anywhere other than Toronto—I wasn't sure why, so I headed for Halifax." Justin had known producer and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Ledwell for some time. Daniel had set up a studio at his home in Lake Echo, Nova Scotia. Justin had guested on the song Bring Me A Rose from Jenn Grant's award winning album Compostela which was recorded in Lake Echo (Grant and Ledwell are husband and wife) and with Daniel's encouragement to get out of his comfort zone, Justin trekked along the Trans-Canada to Nova Scotia: "I wanted to create an album in which a different geography served as the backdrop. I wanted to record on the east coast, use musicians from the east coast, even master the album on the east coast. Thinking of a title for the album was easy."