We’re all about the music on Episode 596 of Folk Roots Radio as we check out more of the great new music we’ve received. Many artists have been spending their time off the road working on new songs, and often whole albums. A lot of those new songs are now being released, which means an abundance of wonderful new music to check out. Join us on this episode as we hear from Carrie Newcomer, Craig Robertson, The Pairs, Kristin Ormiston, Brad Kolodner, Ray Lambiase, Samantha Crain, Digging Roots, Adrian Sutherland, Willie Nile, Rachel Garlin, Larry Folk, Pokey LaFarge, Jackson Browne and Dar Williams. Remember, if you like what you hear on Folk Roots Radio… and want to support the artists… don’t just stream their music, BUY their music and then you’ll really make a difference to their income during this difficult time, when it’s really hard to find live show opportunities. Check out the full playlist below.
Carrie Newcomer has released a great new album, “Until Now”, a recording she describes as… a balm for the anxious and exhausted during difficult times. That sounds like something we could all use at the moment.
Until Now explores the process of unraveling and reweaving the threads of our lives, and the possibility of transformation after crisis. The album release is also accompanied by a companion book of poems.
“We have all lived through a time of great unraveling. Yet, with great disruption comes a possibility for change. We can’t just be healed; we must be transformed.”
In her songs and poems, Carrie Newcomer tells the universal human story of loss, resiliency, spiritual connection, and hope with the grace, compassion, and humour that characterizes her work. She turns our eyes and ears to the growing edges of our lives, and to the liminal spaces “betwixt and between” times — urging us to “notice what went unnoticed”, redeeming those bits and pieces by “making something new”, as she writes in the poem ‘Liminality’.
Cambridge ON’s Craig Robertson is quite a prolific songwriter. He released the excellent “Stranger Than Yesterday” last year, and earlier this summer followed that up with “Simple Things”, fifteen songs that were primarily written and recorded at home during the pandemic. Rumour has it that we can expect another new album from Craig next year.
The Pairs are a fun vocal group from London ON who describe themselves as ‘three classically trained vocalists and a former punk rock drummer’. Their new single “High Hopes” was inspired by people struggling with mental illness during the pandemic, and a call to reach out to those who may need a little more support during these difficult times.
“High Hopes is about those who are struggling in life and those that are no longer with us because of suicide. It’s a call to hold one another up and remember our humanity. To show up in ways that are meaningful. To reach out to the people that seem to be fading away and remember the things that bring us to life.”
The Pairs joined us in our mobile studio at the 2019 Folk Music Ontario conference for a fun interview and some live songs. That seems like forever ago, and, dare we say, from another lifetime. The good news is that FMO2021 will be happening this year, though virtually from September 25 – October 1. Sadly, there was no 2020 conference.
Singer-songwriter Kristin Ormiston reached out to us to share her song “Kamloops” which comes from her debut recording “Love Found Me” (2021), an album about romantic love for people and places.
Kamloops has been in the news a lot recently, in relation to the shocking discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School and now for the fact that it is right in the middle of the area being ravaged by wildfires in British Columbia. Kristin hopes that this song, will remind people of happier times.
Just in case it wasn’t clear, Kristin has indeed found love – she’s now relocated from the Gulf Islands to Smithers in Northern British Columbia.
“To write an album about romantic love in my fifties seems like odd timing, but I have never conducted my life according to the normal schedule. ”
In addition to releasing a debut folk album at the age of 52, Kristin is also in the process of becoming a published author. In ‘The Gift In Your Story’ a collaborative inspirational book, Kristin delves into her experience of raising four young children in her twenties, and the fallout of a failed marriage that led Kristin to move to Japan to teach.
The instrumental on this episode ,“Catalpa Hop”, is an original tune from Baltimore-based clawhammer banjo player Brad Kolodner. It comes from Brad’s debut album of original and traditional clawhammer banjo tunes, “Chimney Swifts”.
Catalpa Hop was inspired by a massive catalpa tree that looms over the front porch of Brad’s Baltimore home, and where Brad sits and practices every day. Every now and then a new tune, like this one, takes flight. It sounds like a very creative place to play.
Veteran Long Island storytelling singer-songwriter Ray Lambiase has just released his fifth album, “The Road Ahead”. On this episode we play the lovely title track, a reminder that where you end up isn’t always where you planned to go.
“Where you are, is where you ought to be. The road ahead is not the road you see.”
Two-time Native American Award winner, Choctaw singer-songwriter Samantha Crain, from Shawnee, OK is creating quite the buzz for her music. Her four track E.P. “I Guess We Live Here Now” was inspired by the pandemic rediscovery of her hometown while vacationing in her own backyard.
It’s the follow up to the very well-received “A Small Death” from 2019 which she amazingly started work on while recovering from the effects of three car accidents within three months – which left her bedridden, in physical and mental pain and without the use of her hands.
Unable to write or play Samantha dictated voice memos to her phone. That’s definitely a commitment to your art, and the muse that drives you forward. Fortunately, she seems to have made a full recovery.
The track we play on this episode, “Bloomsday”, is a lovely folk/pop song that talks about discovering the light inside while weaving in a very familiar gospel song refrain… “This light little of mine / I’m gonna let it shine”.
Juno award winning indigenous roots rockers Digging Roots, who feature ShoShona Kish and Raven, have released a new single, “The Healer” – a potent message of hope and a promise to future generations… “that one day we’ll get to dream in our own language again”.
It’s the first release from Ishkōdé Records, a new label founded by ShoShona Kish and Amanda Rheaume.
Midnight Shine’s Adrian Sutherland from Attawapiskat ON, in the far north of Canada, is getting set to release his first solo album “When The Magic Hits”. The first single, “Right Here”, is a song about looking out for friends and family in difficult times.
“Right Here is a song about always being there for the people that you love and care about, especially when times are tough. And vice versa – having the people that you love and care about, being there for you when you need them most.”
Since March of 2020, Sutherland has been fully isolated on the James Bay in Attawapiskat First Nation – a fly-in-only location that due to the pandemic has had very restricted flights in and out. Finding himself fully cut-off from the music industry, with no access to recording studio infrastructure, Adrian realized he’d have to fully DIY it. So he spent last fall constructing and preparing his own recording space in a metal shipping container located on his property. This spring, Adrian was finally able to start working remotely and interactively with producers and musicians from inside his ‘sea-can studio’ for recording vocals and music tracks for his debut album.
Veteran New York rocker Willie Nile has channelled his own lived experience into a great new pandemic recording, the pop/rock album “The Day The Earth Still”, his fourteenth studio recording.
“It came from seeing the deserted streets of downtown Manhattan, with all the shops and stores boarded up and all these beautiful buildings looking down on everything. But one Friday night last June, crossing Varick Street, I realized that there wasn’t a car in sight, and that I could have laid down in the middle of the street without anyone noticing. The title The Day the Earth Stood Still hit me, and I carried it around in my head for awhile, and eventually it sparked this set of songs.”
The eleven tracks on the new album feature Willie Nile’s trademark mix of romance, idealism and humour, channeling a true believer’s passionate affirmation of life, love and rock ’n’ roll. His hard-wired social conscience drives two of the stand out tracks, the heartfelt “Blood on Your Hands,” recorded as a duet with his West Village neighbour Steve Earle, and the impassioned “The Justice Bell,” inspired by his encounter with civil rights icon and U.S. Congressman John Lewis.
San Francisco singer-songwriter and activist Rachel Garlin‘s latest album, the EP “Late To Bloom”, features four COVID-era originals, and a solo rendition of a song you wouldn’t expect to hear sung by a woman, Eric Clapton’s “Layla”. However, when you learn that Rachel Garlin’s wife is called Layla… well, that all makes sense.
The song we play on this episode “The State That We Are In” is a commentary on US politics and the lack of progress on climate change – and, let’s be honest, the state of the world, in general.
Toronto singer-songwriter Larry Folk‘s latest single “Feeling Lost In America” comes from his forthcoming album “Thru a Dark Lens”. The release of the single was brought forward after Larry watched the desperate scenes unfolding at the airport in Kabul, as the US and other western forces rushed to leave Afghanistan, after a twenty year stay, and yet another ill-fated military campaign.
“A song which is sadly appropriate as we watch the heartbreaking turmoil currently unfolding in Afghanistan. I know we all wished for a much better resolution, one that would secure the rights of women and children and lead to a much more tolerant and compassionate place to exist.”
Pokey LaFarge has released another new album “In The Blossom Of Their Shade”. We say another new album, because Pokey had expected to spend 2020-21 touring last year’s very well-received new album, “Rock-Bottom Rhapsody”. Those tour plans were upended by Covid-19, so he did what many artists have done, started work on new material. Fortunately, it’s led to the release of another fine album.
“This album is a result of my 2020 experience. Before the pandemic, I was in a dark place but the pandemic actually created the much needed space for me to reflect. Turns out that being completely sedentary for once was a good thing. I found peace in the stillness. I was able to recalibrate what it is I do and why I’m doing it. Who I’m to do it with and most importantly, who I’m doing it for.”
Jackson Browne has released his first album in seven years, “Downhill From Everywhere”. The track we play on this episode, “A Little Soon To Say”, is a reflection on how a new generation of young people are working hard to make change in the world, while wondering if they’ll be more successful than his own generation.
“I was thinking about the new generation — the Parkland students, and Greta Thunberg, and the young people who have been very vocal, saying, ‘You’re not making any real attempt to change things in a way for us to have the planet you had.’ How do you pass this mess on to the next generation, the future generations?”
We wrapped the episode with Dar Williams and “You Give it All Away”, the first single from her new album “I’ll Meet You Here”, a new recording that’s a reminder that we all have the power to meet the challenge of the moment.
“Good and bad things happen, and it’s not necessarily a reward or indictment. I’ve just got to meet it. Like, I’m bringing my whole life to this moment; it will surprise me, challenge me, show me where I was wrong, even make a fool out of me, but my job is to show up and not take adversity personally. Real happiness doesn’t have to feel like Snoopy dancing with Woodstock; it can just be knowing you have the resilience to meet whatever comes to you. I will call that ‘a good life’.”
You Give it All Away is all about being a musical artist in a hype filled fast paced world where streaming is king – and where the new music you’ve been working so hard to create, may not be appreciated or valued as much as it once was.
Which is why… if you really want to support the artists you love please… buy their music, don’t just stream it!
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!
Stay safe and well everyone!
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)
A Long Way Up
Until Now (2021, Available Light Records)
Simple Things (2021, Hashbrick Records) CDN
(single) (2021, Self) CDN
Love Found Me (2021, Wheelhouse Records) CDN
Chimney Swifts (2021, Self)
The Road Ahead
The Road Ahead (2021, Raytone Records)
Bloomsday (Radio Edit)
I Guess We Live Here Now EP (2021, Real Kind/Communion Records)
The Healer (Radio Edit)
(single) (2021, Ishkōdé Records) CDN
Right Here (2021, Midnight Shine Music) CDN
The Day The Earth Stood Still
The Day The Earth Stood Still (2021, Rover House Records)
The State That We Are In
Late To Bloom EP (2021, Self)
Feeling Lost In America
(single) (2021, Self) CDN
Get It ‘Fore It’s Gone
In The Blossom Of Their Shade (2021, New West)
A Little Soon To Say (Radio Edit)
Downhill From Nowhere (2021, Inside Recordings)
You Give it All Away
I’ll Meet You Here (2021, Renew Records)