We have another hour of the great new releases to share with you on Episode 625 of Folk Roots Radio. Join us for new music from Jane Mathew, Big Little Lions, Sam Weber, Graham Ko, Max Allard, HuDost, Ben Sures, Keb’ Mo’, Jake Blount, The Pine Hearts, Bryan McPherson and Lynne Hanson. We wrap things up with three songs from folk singer Norma Waterson who sadly passed away recently, and was widely regarded as English folk royalty for her beautiful voice, and work with family bands The Watersons and Waterson: Carthy. 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 live show opportunities are harder to come by. Check out the full playlist below.
Singer-songwriter Jane Mathew started out her music career busking on the Toronto Metro subway. “Have Fun” comes from her full-length debut, “Such Perfect Lives”, a project she wrote as a direct response to the increasing inauthenticity she was seeing in everyday life, especially on social media.
“I started writing these songs so I could vent my frustrations, but at some point it turned out to be therapeutic for me, and an opportunity for me to be honest with myself about some difficult experiences.”
Folk Roots Radio favourites, Big Little Lions, who feature long distance songwriting talents of Helen Austin and Paul Otten, are continuing to put out some great singles. Big Little Lions started releasing a new single a month during the pandemic. They have now gone one better with the release of a three track EP “Someday”, their first for Edmonton’s Fallen Tree Records.
“Someday is a reflective downtempo ode to a buried past, just biding its time before the trauma re-emerges. For now though, it’s peaceful.”
LA based Canadian singer-songwriter Sam Weber spent his time in pandemic lockdown working on the follow-up to the well received studio release “Everything Comes True” from 2019. “Get Free”, his latest, was actually recorded in his apartment.
“I wrote most of this music before the lockdown happened. We wanted to go into another beautiful L.A. studio with another super band to record these new songs, but when all the plugs got pulled, we were sort of left holding nothing but the material. My partner (and fellow singer-songwriter) Mallory Hauser was keen to rally and share production duties with me – to make the most of what we had, which was liberating somehow: to have this logistical ceiling on how we could record or approach these songs in our living room. We were forced to be as creative as possible with what we had. I think it was the best thing that could have happened to us.”
“All this sadness, all life’s lessons. These confessional songs we sing lead me higher – to salvation. Here’s to all the future brings!” (Sam Weber, ‘Here’s To The Future’)
“One Step Forward”, the new single from Toronto singer-songwriter Graham Ko was written during a challenging period in his life, when he felt things were hopeless – yet knew that the only way out of his situation was to take things… one step at a time.
“I had an internal dialogue one day while I was on the train during a very difficult time in my life. My family was far away, I was working a job I hated, and everything seemed to be in this constant downward spiral. Trying to shake off this terrible feeling, I tried giving myself a motivational speech and thought… ‘things will get better as long as you’re taking steps in the right direction… all it takes is one step’. The track rhythm you hear in the song was inspired by the train itself!”
The instrumental on this episode comes from Max Allard who has just released a (mostly) banjo debut solo album “Odes – Codes”, which was produced by Jayme Stone. The album features a banjo duet with Jayme Stone (“Deco”), but all the others tracks are solo banjo, except for two acoustic guitar tracks and a solo piano piece. Max Allard is currently enrolled as a composition major at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio.
“I could not pass up a opportunity to collaborate with such a great improviser (Jayme Stone). The only thing better than solo banjo is dual (but not dueling) banjos!”
Moksha Sommer from Montreal and Jemal Wade Hines from Kentucky make music together as Nashville based indie folk duo HuDost. They reflect on the pain of the current times on “This Is How My Story Ends”, from their latest album “Anthems Of Home”.
“‘This Is How My Story Ends’ is a spacious and moving ballad that addresses the triggers that many people are struggling with during these tumultuous times – and what people can do to claim their own stories. It voices the internal mechanisms that many of us encounter when in pain and isolation such as depression, anxiety, anger, addiction, and the fear that we are incapable of achieving positive change in ourselves or in the world.”
Edmonton based singer-songwriter Ben Sures has his tongue firmly planted in his cheek while recognizing the vulnerability of COVID times on “End Of The World” from his latest recording, and album number 10, “The Story That Lived Here”.
‘In case it’s the end of the world, I’m gonna have a cinnamon bun…’ Sures quips to kick the record off, addressing a universal desire for comfort going hand in hand with a newfound vulnerability. On ‘The Story That Lived Here’, Ben Sures sings stories inspired by friends and fans and songs written from his own heart; songs about library ladies, yard sales and dive bars, accidents and grieving; and – because we’re living through a pandemic still – at least one song about the end of the world.
Keb’ Mo’ is feeling hopeful that we may be finally moving out of the coronavirus pandemic on “The Medicine Man” from his latest album “Good To Be…”, a song that also features members of the “Old Crow Medicine Show”.
Jake Blount‘s new single is a re-working of “The Man Was Burning”, a 1920’s spiritual that speaks to the extreme wealth imbalance and privilege that exist in the current times. It’s a song that Jake describes as very much his “Eat the Rich” moment!
“Ocean In Your Veins” is another wonderful track from “Lost Love Songs”, the excellent new album from playful bluegrass Americana band The Pine Hearts from Washington State.
Troubadour singer-songwriter Bryan McPherson finds himself moving out of his angry phase to rediscover peace and contentment on “2 Birds” from his latest album, “How To Draw Everything”.
“There’s something about the sky that makes me grateful to be alive.”
“Hip Like Cohen” is the latest single from Canada’s Queen of Americana, Ottawa-based Lynne Hanson. You’ll be able to find it on her upcoming album “Ice Cream In November” (due April 2022).
“Hip Like Cohen started out as a dare. I had been co-writing with Blair Michael Hogan and he would send me musical ideas to see if I could develop them into songs. He thought this idea was too quirky, which I immediately took as a challenge. I thought, I just need to be hip like Cohen. The title stuck, and I built the lyrics and vocal melody on that initial spark. I was also in the process of being featured in a dance video which made me realize I’m a terrible dancer. The first line “I was such a great dancer / when I was three” pretty much opened the floodgates for the rest of the lyrics.”
We wrapped up the episode with three songs from folk singer Norma Waterson – best known as a member of celebrated English folk group The Watersons – who sadly passed away recently. We first played her beautiful version of the Grateful Dead’s “Black Muddy River” from her 1996 self-titled album. We followed that with a beautifully fragile version of Nick Lowe’s The Beast in Me” from “Anchor”, her 2018 collaboration with daughter Eliza Carthy and The Gift Band, which was recorded live off the floor in a chapel in Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire, England.
Our final song on the show was actually a hymn – an old sailor’s hymn, “We Have An Anchor”. Sung by Norma Waterson with Eliza Carthy (and The Gift Band) with only the chapel organ for accompaniment, it was written by Priscilla Jane Owens, a Baltimore school teacher. A favourite of Jan’s mother, it seemed a rather fitting way to wrap up this episode.
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
when the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
Stay safe and well everyone. Things will get better. One step at a time. Just put ‘one foot in front of the other’ as Jan’s mother would say…
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)
Such Perfect Lives (2021, Self) CDN
Big Little Lions
Someday E.P. (2022, Fallen Tree Records) CDN
Here’s To The Future
Get Free (2022, Sonic Unyon Records) CDN
One Step Forward
(single) (2022, Self) CDN
Of The Morning
Odes – Codes (2021, Self)
This Is How My Story Ends
Anthems Of Home (2021, Self)
End Of The World
The Story That Lived Here (2021, Self) CDN
The Medicine Man (feat. Old Crow Medicine Show)
Good To Be… (2022, Rounder Records / Concord)
The Man Was Burning
(single) (2022, Free Dirt Records)
The Pine Hearts
Ocean In Your Veins
Lost Love Songs (2021, Self)
How To Draw Everything (2022, O.F.D. Records)
Hip Like Cohen
Ice Cream In November (2022, Self) CDN
Black Muddy River
Norma Waterson (1996, Rykodisc)