We’re off to Pointe-Claire QC on Episode 597 of Folk Roots Radio to chat with singer-songwriter Rob Lutes about his wonderful eighth solo album “Come Around”. No stranger to this show, Rob Lutes’ last album – the critically acclaimed “Walk In The Dark” was our favourite album of 2017. Come Around is another beautiful blend of folk, blues and Americana, and in some ways it’s a reflection on the challenges we all face in life but particularly during these strange pandemic times. As always, we wrap up the episode with more great new releases, and this time around they are all by Canadian artists. Join us for new music from Lynne Hanson , Alicia Toner, The Fretless, Marc Audet, Barney Bentall & Geoffrey Kelly, Isaac Murdoch (Bomgiizhik) & Matt Epp, Gordie Tentrees, Ken Tizzard & Music For Goats and The McDades. Check out the full playlist below.
Recorded during the Fall 2020, “Come Around” is the eighth solo album from acclaimed Canadian songwriter and Kerrville New Folk winner, Rob Lutes . The follow-up to 2017’s “Walk in the Dark”, which was our favourite album of 2017, it also went on to win earn Rob Lutes, Contemporary Singer Of The Year at the 2018 Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Come Around was produced by Rob with longtime collaborator Rob MacDonald. The album was mixed by renowned Montreal-based engineer Rob Heaney who sadly passed away earlier this year.
Sessions for the new recording actually took place in six different studios because of COVID-19 restrictions. Joining Rob Lutes on the album are some of the finest folk and roots musicians on the Canadian scene, including versatile guitarist Rob MacDonald, keyboardist Bob Stagg, bassist Solon McDade, and gorgeous backing vocals from singer-songwriter Annabelle Chvostek.
“We had to make adjustments in the way we did this album. We couldn’t be together. But from across the country, we found a synergy through these songs. It was almost as if we were in the room together.”
Come Around features 11 original songs, alongside a cover of the traditional acoustic blues classic “In My Time of Dyin'”.
On “Knives”, Rob Lutes views the extremes of love and loss against the realities of domesticity; in “Lightning”, painful flashes of recognition provide, in the end, a vision of hope; on “That Bird Has My Wings”, a song inspired by the book of the same title by Buddhist author and death-row inmate Jarvis Jay Masters, Lutes finds hope of freedom in the imagination and the natural world; and on “Work of Art”, the unlived life is recast as a thing of beauty. Always an excellent storyteller, Lutes also writes movingly of places in his life, evoking the joys of youth and the comfort of memory in “Shediac Bridge”, “Fisherman’s Rest” and “Amsterdam”. The album closes with the beautifully restrained instrumental “Away”.
For more information about the music of Rob Lutes, visit roblutes.com.
We’ll be releasing the full video interview of our conversation with Rob Lutes shortly. Stay tuned!
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Canada’s Queen of Americana Lynne Hanson has released a beautiful new single “Hold My Breath”, a song she wrote with guitarist Blair Michael Hogan during the pandemic. A testament to the life of a musician in Covid Times, it’s also a reflection on all the loved ones we’ve missed seeing while in lockdown. A new album from Lynne Hanson is expected in 2022.
Atlantic Canadian singer-songwriter Alicia Toner‘s sophomore release, “Joan” is a deeply personal journey of love and loss. On this episode we play “Try Again”, our third track from the new recording. It’s an album that is definitely worth checking out.
Canadian string quartet The Fretless, who feature Trent Freeman, Karrnnel Sawitsky and Ben Plotnick on fiddle and viola with Eric Wright on cello, are getting ready to release a 10-track guest vocalist collaboration album “Open House”. On this episode we play The Fretless version of The Brothers Landreth classic “Let It Lie” which features The Brothers Landreth themselves, David and Joey, on vocals.
“Karrnnel and Joey played in a country band together way back in the day and have kept in touch over the years, even collaborating on some other music since the country music days. Ever since they released Let It Lie, The Fretless have been huge fans of all the music that The Bros. Landreth release and Joey even joined the band for a song at a Toronto show a few years back. The groove, the tones, the harmonies, the musical intricacies – their music is gold and we wanted to do a Fretless take on the track that began our Bros fandom.”
“When The Fretless reached out about this collaboration we were really humbled and the track came together even better than we imagined. It was really fun to dust off an old tune and breathe some new life into it. As it turned out, we liked the project so much that we insisted on signing them to our new record label!”
Ottawa Valley singer-songwriter Marc Audet‘s debut album “The River” (from 2019), which was produced by Brock Zeman, arrived during the early part of the pandemic. It nearly slipped by without a play. We were pleased to remedy that on this episode.
“I’m really proud of my songwriting on this album. I’ve written about the heritage of the Ottawa Valley, which applies to many other areas of Canada. I have a fascination for interesting historical events or ‘ways’, and in some cases the songwriting is preserving stories that would otherwise be lost. I make the time to research the topics, including interviewing descendants, viewing census records, checking out the earliest aerial photos from the National Air Photo Library in Ottawa, etc. I’m already working on songs for a new album that I hope to release in the next year or so.”
“Another Chance is a folksy love song about making decisions in life, and if you were to somehow go back in time would you make the same decisions regarding what to study at school, what type of job to take to put food on the table, where to live and most importantly who to spend the rest of your life with.”
This episode’s instrumental, “Bonaparte Plateau” , is another track from Barney Bentall & Geoffrey Kelly‘s great instrumental album “RanchWriters” which was recorded at Barney’s ranch in the Cariboo region of British Columbia during the early days of the pandemic.
Yukon singer-songwriter Gordie Tentrees has released a great new album (his eighth), “Mean Old World”, which he predominantly worked on with multi-instrumentalists Bob Hamilton (who also produces) and Jaxon Haldane.
The themes contained on Mean Old World stem from his family’s journey in navigating the child welfare system. Songs such as “Every Child”, “Rosetta” and especially the album’s title track are reflections of truth, loss, hope, colonialism and growth that have come from these first-hand experiences.
“It’s been a long time since I have believed in a batch of tunes like these. “I think ‘Wind Walker’ especially is a reminder that we northern folks move to the beat of our own drum, and that’s why we live here. There are positives and negatives to that, particularly when you’re a non-indigenous parent to an indigenous child. I think I conveyed that in ‘Every Child’ and ‘Mean Old World.’ ‘Every Child’ also features The Dakhka Kwaan Dancers and they have taught me a lot through their inclusive warmth and creativity.”
On this episode we play “Train Is Gone”, a playful reflection on mortality.
Indigenous storyteller, visual artist, and educator Isaac Murdoch (Bomgiizhik) has teamed up with award-winning international touring singer-songwriter Matt Epp on a new collaborative project “You Were Chosen To Be Here” (release October 1, 2021). On this episode we play the first single “Indian Song”.
Indian Song tells Isaac’s own story of being homeless while trying to cope with mental health challenges. Originally conceived as a band song, it was stripped right back on the advice of Daniel Lanois.
“When I was younger, life was a challenge. It was riddled with all sorts of difficulties and dark places. Indian Song is a personal testimony of living on the streets dealing with mental wellness issues and how cultural and traditional practices helped me in my healing journey. I can now smile knowing there is always hope. Life can always get better.”
The Watchman and Thornley bassist turned folk singer-songwriter, expat Newfoundlander Ken Tizzard, who now lives in Campbellford ON, has finally settled on the line-up for his new band, the wonderfully titled Music For Goats. The band have just released their first official single, “End Of The World” which Ken describes as reflection on the world around us. You’ll be able to find it on the bluegrass, folk, rock, punk and country band’s first recording which is expected next year. ‘Eclectic’ just about covers their sound. They have so much fun playing together, we can’t wait to check this album out!
We wrap the episode with Shannon, Solon & Jeremiah McDade as Alberta’s Celtic rooted Canadiana band The McDades with their version of the Gordon Lightfoot classic “Sundown”, which will appear on their forthcoming album, “The Empress”.
“We were talking in the studio about how many great Canadian songwriters there were and how much fun it would be to add some of those songs to our shows. During a break from the studio we were out with a family friend who was sharing stories about his acting days. He told a great one about the the time he shared a trailer with Gordon Lightfoot during the filming of “Harry Tracy, Desperado”. That same night our mom shared a story about meeting Gordon at a party in Edmonton. It seemed all signs were pointing to us bringing a Gordon Lightfoot song into our show. As soon as we tried Sundown with open tuned guitar, saxophone, fiddle and upright bass, we realized it was perfect for the McDade sound. We tried to capture the emotional turmoil of the lyrics through everyone’s performance, especially in the kickin’ saxophone solo.”
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!
Image Credit: Mark Robinson.
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Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises
Roll Right (2019, self)
Hold My Breath
(single) (2021, Self) CDN
Joan (2021, Self) CDN
Let It Lie (feat. The Brothers Landreth)
(single) (2021, Birthday Cake) CDN
The River (2019, Self) CDN
Barney Bentall & Geoffrey Kelly
RanchWriters (2021, True North Records) CDN
Work Of Art
Come Around (2021, Self) CDN
Interview: Rob Lutes discussing his latest album “Come Around”.
That Bird Has My Wings
Come Around (2021, Self) CDN
Come Around (2021, Self) CDN
Train Is Gone
Mean Old World (2021, Buckaroo Records) CDN
Ken Tizzard & Music For Goats
End Of The World
(single) (2021, Self) CDN
(single) (2021, Self) CDN