Folk Roots Radio Episode 571: feat. Justin Rutledge – Islands & More New Releases

Folk Roots Radio Episode 571: feat. Justin Rutledge - Islands & More New Releases

Juno Award winning singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge joins us on Episode 571 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about his new compilation “Islands”. A retrospective with a difference, all of the songs chosen for the project were re-recorded in the way they were originally conceived – that’s pretty much solo voice and guitar with minimal accompaniment, which leaves the listener feeling like they’re listening to the songs for the first time. It’s a beautiful album, and if you’re not familiar with the music of Justin Rutledge, it’s a wonderful way to get acquainted with a great songwriter. We hope you’ll stay with us to check it out. As always, we check out more of the latest releases, and this time around we hear from Lizzy Plotkin & Natalie Spears, Anya Hinkle, Tim Grimm, Chairmen Of The Boards, Spencer Burton and Glass Cabin. Check out the full playlist below.

Best 2020


Toronto based singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge‘s ninth album “Islands” was not only a chance to look back at twenty years as a working musician, but an opportunity to revisit some of the songs in the catalogue, strip them back to their essence and deliver them in the way they were originally created – just voice and guitar, with lots of space and minimal accompaniment. For the listener that means that you get an aural experience that feels very much like it would if you were sitting in the room with him at the end of a late night writing session.

Very much a solo project, the album was recorded with regular collaborator Chris Stringer at Union Sound with the only additions being a little electric guitar from Tom Juhas and piano from Aaron Comeau.

“I look back and view past albums as bookmarks in my life, each composed of a span of two or three years. I was a different person at the release of each album. Recording Islands required a stroll down memory lane, for better or worse, and shaking hands with the people I used to be.”

One of the songs on the album, “Federal Mail” is so stripped back that it loses its vocal, and turns into a wonderful guitar and piano instrumental – the tinkling ivories creating an all together different experience from the brooding song that appeared on Justin’s first album, “No Never Alone” from 2004.

“Even though I rarely play the song live, I’ve always loved the melody in Federal Mail, I wanted to hear the melody stand on its own, without the distraction of words or my voice. Although I am a singer, I really enjoy not singing as well.”

The only new song on the album is “Jellybean”, though that’s not new at all, as it has been closing out Justin’s live set since the start of his career. Friends Dan Mangan, Matthew Barber, and Annelise Noronha and others lend their voices to the recording to recreate that spine-tingling end of the night experience.

“I’ve always been cautious about recording “Jellybean” on an album because it is such a ‘live’ song. I’ve tried a few times in the past, but it never made the cut. I think I finally captured the essence of the song with this recording.”

For more information about the music of Justin Rutledge, visit

Photo credit: Christine Flynn.

Show Notes

We started off the episode with Colorado’s Lizzy Plotkin & Natalie Spears with “Seasons Change” from their very well received six-song fiddle and banjo album “Just Over The Ridge”.

Anya Hinkle who produced the very well-received “Woven Waters” with her band Tellico in 2018, has released a powerful new single “What’s It Gonna Take”. The new song, which was written with the Steep Canyon Rangers’ Graham Sharp, reflects on George Floyd’s tragic killing in Minneapolis. It will appear on her upcoming solo album.

“We are all asking ‘What’s it gonna take? How can we create real and lasting change to the dynamics that rob us, as a nation, of the American dream? Can we listen and learn, make a commitment to trying to get it right?’ We asked master of the sacred steel guitar, DaShawn Hickman, and gospel singer Wendy Hickman to join us on the recording. Bringing in their voices was an important part of processing a difficult summer, building trust and beauty through song. Only by listening to Black voices are we going to know what it’s gonna take.”

As he couldn’t play live, Indiana singer-songwriter Tim Grimm decided to spend the pandemic working on a new album. On this episode we play “A Dream” from his 8-track album “Gone” that reflects on dreams past and present, and the personal and community impacts of loss. Like all of Tim’s releases, it is wonderful. Another songwriter at the top of his game.

For this episode’s instrumental we brought in some more fabulous surf music from Chairmen Of The Boards with “Run-A-Wave” from their excellent album “Surfin’ The Apocalypse”, one of Our Favourite Albums of 2020. This is not quite what you’d call folk and roots music, but as befits a DJ who started out in radio with a rather eclectic morning show, we reserve the right to mix things up. It’s the way we roll!

Country-folk singer-songwriter Spencer Burton, who moved from Toronto to the Niagara region to bring up his family, has released a really nice fifth album “Coyote” – which reflects on his new life away outside the big city. The new album, which has a lovely feel to it, was recorded in analog with Andrija Tokic at the Bomb Shelter in Nashville.

We wrapped the episode with Glass Cabin, a new rootsy Americana duo from Nashville featuring singer-songwriter Jess Brown and studio musician Dave Flint. After a decade co-producing other artists, they felt the time was right to release their own self-titled album, from which we play the wonderfully catchy “Hey O”.

That’s all we have time for. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We have lots of great music and interviews to bring you on future episodes.

If you enjoy the music we play on this show and want to support the artists – many of whom aren’t able to play live at the moment because of the Covid-19 pandemic, don’t just stream their music – that earns them much less than a penny per play. Instead, buy their music – and really make a difference to their income. They’ll love you for it!


You can listen to this episode again on Soundcloud by following the link below. You can also listen to episodes of Folk Roots Radio, on demand, via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Tune-in Radio. (Click on the highlighted link to reach your chosen platform.)


Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises
Roll Right (2019, self)

Lizzy Plotkin & Natalie Spears
Seasons Change
Just Over The Ridge (2021, Self)

Anya Hinkle
What’s It Gonna Take
(single) (2020, Organic Records)

Tim Grimm
A Dream
Gone (2021, Vault Records)

Chairmen Of The Boards
Surfin’ The Apocalypse (2020, Weewerk) CDN

Justin Rutledge
Good Man
Islands (2021, Outside Music) CDN

Interview: Justin Rutledge discussing his new compilation album “Islands”.

Justin Rutledge
Out Of The Woods
Islands (2021, Outside Music) CDN

Justin Rutledge
Federal Mail
Islands (2021, Outside Music) CDN

Justin Rutledge
Islands (2021, Outside Music) CDN

Spencer Burton
Things I Can’t Do
Coyote (2021, Still Records) CDN

Glass Cabin
Hey O
Glass Cabin (2020, Self)

About the author


Host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan Hall started in Radio in 1993 at WEFT 90.1fm in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Folk Roots Radio (formerly Royal City Rag) debuted on CFRU 93.3fm in August 2005 before developing into a syndicated radio show. As the host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan focuses on bringing new folk, roots and blues music and the voices of upcoming and independent artists to the airwaves. Jan is also a much sought after stage host and festival emcee. In 2019, Jan Hall received Folk Music Ontario's prestigious Estelle Klein Award for her contribution to Ontario's folk music community.

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