We have another hour of great new releases to share with you on Episode 626 of Folk Roots Radio. This time around, as we celebrate the launch of the Women In Music Canada Directory, they are all by female artists – although not all of the music we play is Canadian. Join us for new music from Dalannah Gail Bowen, Mala Oreen, Heather Sarona, Sophie Lukacs, Ingrid Henderson, Spell Songs (feat. Karine Polwart), Mama’s Broke, Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves, The Accidentals, Heather Pierson, Amy Bishop, Rhiannon Giddens, Geneviève Racette, Francine Honey and HuDost. 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.
We decided to subtitle this episode the ‘Women In Music’ edition to celebrate the launch of the Women In Music Canada Directory.
Last year, Women in Music Canada commissioned a study (Action Plan & Framework: Advancing Gender Balance in the Canadian Music Industry) to show the benefits of increasing gender diversity within the music industry.
According to Women in Music Canada, the new directory will address the industry need to source gender diverse talent by creating a place for those seeking performers, industry team members, suppliers, speakers and panellists; as well as those looking to fill employment opportunities and board positions.
Visit Women In Music Canada online at womeninmusic.ca, for more information.
We started off the episode with Vancouver based matriarch of the blues Dalannah Gail Bowen and “Looking Back” from her new compilation “In My Own Words”, which features fifteen of her favourite songs that were written and recorded for Quest Records. The album has been released to celebrate what Dalannah describes as… 75 years of “Living and Loving”!
Mala Oreen is a Swiss-American singer-songwriter, based in Switzerland. Her latest album “Awake”, which was recorded in Nashville with Neilson Hubbard, tells the story of a well-travelled soul on the rough and winding roads of life. The song we play on this episode, “Ragged Queen” is all about trust.
“‘Ragged Queen’ is about trusting yourself – your inner voice. We all know the answers, even when we seem to be uncertain of ourselves. We just need to look inside.”
“Head Above Water” is the title track of North Carolina singer-songwriter Heather Sarona‘s first full length album. It’s another song reflecting on life in Covid times.
“Head Above Water covers a lot of ground, given that it is my first full length album. It includes songs I’ve written over several years. I began recording literally days before the Covid quarantine began in March 2020, so when I started back recording in the fall, I had a couple of new, more recently written, songs to include. The songs cover my emotions and struggles at the end of a long relationship, as well as those that came with the relationship that followed. The title track, ‘Head Above Water,’ is about life during quarantine times.”
“So what connects the songs? I think they’re all about love in some way, though most are not ‘love songs; nor is it always obvious how love plays into their meaning. The songs are about losing love, healing from love, hoping for love, finding love, and then navigating love as it grows, ages and is tested.”
“Too Many Times” is the second single from Toronto based singer-songwriter and kora player Sophie Lukacs‘ debut album “Falling”, which is expected later this year.
“This is a song about the challenges of long-distance love, but also about the inequalities of mobility – who has it, who gets to decide who has it – and how this plays into some love stories. In my own situation, this inequality rendered us unable to make important life decisions as we were left in limbo, waiting for someone else to give us permission to be together, and move freely as a family.”
The instrumental on this episode, “The Sarcastic Duck”, comes from Scottish harpist Ingrid Henderson‘s new album “Message In A Bottle” which developed out of an audiovisual project commissioned by Scotland’s nature agency, Nature Scot, to celebrate the country’s spectacular coastline and marine life, while also examining the environmental impact of human activity.
“Bramble”, a beautiful song sung by Scottish singer-songwriter Karine Polwart, comes from “Spell Songs II – Let The Light In” the second recording by acclaimed UK folk ensemble Spell Songs who also feature Julie Fowlis, Rachel Newton, Beth Porter & Jim Molyneux, Kris Drever and Seckou Keita. The album draws its inspiration from the creatures, art and language in the acclaimed The Lost Words and The Lost Spells books by renowned author Robert MacFarlane and award-winning artist Jackie Morris.
Lisa Maria and Amy Lou Keeler make music together as Canadian folk duo Mama’s Broke. “Just Pick One” is the first single from their second album “Narrow Line”, which was produced with Bill Garrett. It’s a song they wrote together while staying in Amy’s uninsulated cabin in rural Nova Scotia during COVID lockdown.
“The fear of the unknown is the biggest thing. It can be overwhelming to have so many potential paths at a given time. Taking comfort in the infinite possibilities of life is a necessary faith for the rootless person or traveller, whether they choose to settle down or not.”
Lisa and Amy met when Lisa hitched a lift from Montreal to Nova Scotia.
“Amy was driving her old Mercedes from Montreal to Nova Scotia and I was looking for a ride. We spent the 17 hours in the car talking almost exclusively about music. By the time we reached Halifax we started playing together, and within a week or two became a band.”
“I was listening to New Brunswicker Marie Hare’s version of “The Banks of the Miramichi”, which appeared on the 1962 Smithsonian Folkways release “Folksongs of the Miramichi: Lumber and River Songs from the Miramichi Folk Fest Newcastle, New Brunswick”. She blew me away. The song was written by Patrick Hurley (1842-1912) of Cassilis, NB, who was a lumber fisherman. Marie Hare (1913-2007) sings it acapella with the most incredible timing and phrasing. In the 1950s, at the time that Hare would have been singing this song, the Canadian government sprayed massive amounts of DDT around the Miramichi to fight the spruce budworm that was affecting the forestry industry. In 1954, the entire salmon hatch died, and the ecosystem was completely altered. Rachel Carson wrote about the incident in the widely influential environmental text Silent Spring (1962).” (Allison de Groot)
An album with a strong environmental focus, Hurricane Clarice (which was produced by Phil Cook) was recorded in 2021 during an unprecedented heatwave that saw the city of Portland, Oregon burning under 120 degree heat.
“We love performing live together so much. We were talking to Phil about that. How do you capture the energy and intimacy of a performance without being too aware that you’re recording in a studio? Phil’s idea was to just play it like it’s a show. We had two sets of songs and we would play them front to back and back to front. We did that for four days in the studio and never listened back to any of the recordings until the last day.” (Allison de Groot)
The The Accidentals‘ Sav Buist and Katie Larson have been friends since high school, and although they are still in their late 20s, they have played together for more than 10 years. Michael Dause rounds out their sound on bass and harmony vocals.
“Leave It In The Dust” is a song about being wary about exposing your own vulnerability in a relationship comes from “Time Out Session 2”, The Accidentals second songwriting collaboration EP. It’s a song they wrote with Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr.
“Wondering What To Give” is another track from Heather Pierson’s lovely new album of chants and rounds for meditation and wellness, “Wishes of Lovingkindness”.
“Inside A Box”, a powerful song of self-discovery and acceptance, comes from Calgary singer-songwriter Amy Bishop‘s most personal album to date “Perfect & Broken”. The song takes you from Amy’s teenage years – a time she felt she didn’t fit in, to the present day when she can confidently state “I don’t fit inside a box”.
“I Shall Not Be Moved” is an African American Spiritual from Rhiannon Giddens‘ latest album with partner and fellow singer-songwriter Francesco Turrisi, “They’re Calling Me Home”.
“I totally heard Dallas’s voice when I wrote this song but I was too shy to ask him to sing on it. There’s something about the melody that reminds me of City and Colour. The idea of asking one of my teenage heroes to sing on my song was a little too scary. I sent him a few demos and out of all the songs, he fell in love with ‘Someone’. Dallas said he would love to sing on it, if I was interested. I said yes. Duh…”
“Hold On”, is the latest single from former Leamington ON based singer-songwriter Francine Honey who is now based in Ottawa. You can find it on her latest album, “I Carry On”.
We wrapped the episode up with Moksha Sommer from Montreal and Jemal Wade Hines from Kentucky as Nashville based indie folk duo HuDost.
“Home Is Bigger Than Us” comes from new album “Anthems Of Home”. A song about how much more beautiful we are when bring our love together… when the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.
“This song is an expression of real love. Not false love, not ‘perfect’ love, but genuine intimacy. Families now exist in many formations. Small and large, related genetically and not genetically, strange and complex, wonderful and confusing, straight and LGBTQ… but always comprised of love.”
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)
Dalannah Gail Bowen
In My Own Words (2021, Quest Records) CDN
Awake (2021, TOURBO Music)
Head Above Water
Head Above Water (2022, Self)
Too Many Times
(single) (2021, Self) CDN
The Sarcastic Duck
Message In A Bottle (2021, Old Laundry Productions)
Just Pick One
Narrow Line (2022, Free Dirt Records) CDN
Leave It In The Dust
Time Out Session 2 (2022, Self)
Wondering What To Give
Wishes of Lovingkindness (2022, Vessel Recordings)
Inside A Box
Perfect & Broken (2022, Self) CDN
I Shall Not Be Moved (with Francesco Turrisi)
They’re Calling Me Home (2021, Nonesuch)
Someone (feat. Dallas Green)
Satellite (2022, Self) CDN
I Carry On (2021, Self) CDN
Home Is Bigger Than Us
Anthems Of Home (2021, Self)