We have another hour of great new releases to share with you on Episode 633 of Folk Roots Radio, and this time around they are all by Canadian artists. Join us as we check out new music from Lunar Bloom, Tragedy Ann, Ray Bonneville, Gunner & Smith, Jesse Cook, Ken Yates, Moonfruits, The Henrys, Noah Reid, Robert Thomas, Pharis & Jason Romero, Glen MacNeil, Willie Stratton, iskwē & Tom Wilson (Lee Harvey Osmond) and Joe Nolan. 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 started off the episode with Toronto vocal trio Lunar Bloom (Brittany Rae Robinson, Kelly McNamee and Jocelyn Regina) with their powerful feminist anthem “Call Me A Woman” from latest album “Running Deep”.
‘Call Me A Woman’ was written by Jocelyn Regina while she was recovering from emergency oophorectomy (removal of an ovary and fallopian tube). The harmonic tension between the three voices evokes the pain and fear of the experience, however the lyrics insist that the operation did not diminish her in any way.
“The process of writing this song is how I realized that the experience had threatened my identity as a woman, and was also the first step towards reclaiming myself. Raw and emotive vocalizations mimic the real sobs that were present on my first voice notes during songwriting.” (Jocelyn Regina)
“The Shield” is the latest single from Guelph’s Liv Cazzola and Braden Phelan who make music together as Tragedy Ann. An ode to the joy of the road trip and the majestic landscape around Lake Superior it comes from their new album “Heirlooms”, a recording they hope will encourage people to develop a deeper connection with their community and the natural world.
Austin TX based Canadian expat Ray Bonneville has released a new single, “On The Blind Side”, the first release from his forthcoming project which is due in 2023. Staying with the personal reflection theme, it’s a song about coming to terms with your own inner shadows while healing old emotional wounds.
Saskatchewan’s Geoff Smith makes music as Gunner & Smith. “Find Your Own Way” is the first single from his third album “Hear You In My Head” which arrives in September 2022. It’s a song about developing an understanding about how the world works and why you should spend time reflecting on your impact.
“This is about growing up and understanding the world around me more fully and coming to terms with my relationship with my mother. About how your understanding of people and who they are fills out over time but also is about the concern for my own legacy and impact.”
The instrumental on this episode “Libre” comes from Jesse Cook. It’s the title track from his 11th studio album, and a recording that was very much made under his daughter’s influence, and inspired by listening to her playlists while taking a road trip. The end result is an album that very effectively marries together Jesse’s love of the guitar with the trap beats of the Roland 808 drum machine.
“I wrote and recorded Libre during the pandemic when, like most people, I was longing for freedom. My music was my escape from the four walls that surrounded me, and the storm that was swirling outside.”
“The inspiration for the project came from a long summer-day drive with my 14-year old daughter who entertained me with her favourite playlists, much of which were trap and 808-inspired. I loved them too, and a question was planted in my mind: ‘what would my music sound like mixed with those sounds?’”
“I was in Grade 10 when the Roland TR808 drum machine was first released. I remember pooling my money together with friends in order to rent one for our mad basement recording sessions. We were spellbound; all of its drum sounds were made by an on-board analogue synthesizer, which gave it this other-worldly quality. Of course, I had no idea that, all these years later, the 808 would come to define so many forms of music — from hip hop, to rap, pop, reggaeton, and trap… And now, I get to incorporate it into my own.”
“Honest Light” is another single from “Cerulean”, the fourth album from acclaimed singer-songwriter Ken Yates; a powerful new set of songs Ken wrote while grieving the impending loss of his mother.
“I used to go searching for the darkness. With this record, the darkness found me first. This is me finding my way out of it.”
“My wife always refers to golden hour as ‘honest light’, when the light illuminates all the dust on your floor and the crumbs on your counter. I had the line, ‘life is like a cheap wine, it don’t get any better with time.’ I merged the title and line together as sort of this acceptance that things are not alright, but you’ll be alright.”
Life partners Kaitlin Milroy and Alex Millaire who make music together as bilingual folk duo Moonfruits. “Atoms Of The Apartment” comes from their upcoming English language album “Salt”, which they describe as a bit of a love song with some quantum physics thrown into the mix.
Toronto’s The Henrys are a lyrical Toronto band who usually bring in guest vocalists to sing their songs. Because of pandemic recording challenges, bandleader Don Rooke decided to sing the songs himself on their latest project. A pretty good job he does too – there is a bit of a Kurt Wagner Lambchop feel to his singing voice. On this episode we play “A Night Beyond Repair”, a reflection on longing from their newly released album “Shrug”.
“This time it made sense to sing the songs myself, to explore personal ideas that developed over a few years of the pandemic, including concerns about what kind of planet we’re handing to our children.”
The lake is down and losing ground
People watching with no sound
Say we’re much better
Than all of this (The Henrys, The Night Beyond Repair)
“‘A Night Beyond Repair’ tells the story of a young woman who makes observations on her travels, then goes back home to find happiness in friends and community. Conjured by feelings about the American South, the Canadian North, and the environment. She sees people who witness the damage that’s being done to the planet, but are either not ready to engage, or can only find the capacity to process a certain amount of bad news. Ultimately, the song suggests life is fun, and beautiful, but it demands our attention and a sense of responsibility.”
Many people will know that Noah Reid played ‘Patrick’ on the beloved Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek. What many will not know is that he also happens to be a fine singer-songwriter. “Statue’s In The Stone” is a reflection on the harsh and judgemental nature of much of the interaction on social media. You’ll be able to ding it on his upcoming album “Adjustments”.
“We live in a very judgmental time, where social media really highlights this urge to tear each other down. But I think if we looked inside ourselves with any kind of honesty, we’d realize that what we need is within us, and we’d be able to lead with a little more love and kindness.”
Maritimer Robert Thomas may not be a name you know… but he’s written songs for the likes of Kenny Rogers, Bonnie Raitt, Joe Cocker, Sheena Easton and The Dixie Chicks. With the help of collaborator Ray Legere and his band The Sessionmen, Robert has now put some of those songs out on an album of his own, “Parallel Lines”. On this episode we play the beautiful and sad “In A Week Or Two”.
“I’ve always written for publishing, and I’ve done a lot of writer circles and seminars and that sort of thing over the years, but never really put this stuff out under my name, always sending it out for other people. Some of them get recorded, and some of the really great tunes songs don’t get recorded at all. It’s nice to be able to put out my own album.”
“Souvenir” is a song about time well spent. You can ding it on “Tell ‘Em You Were Gold”, the new album from Horsefly BC’s Pharis & Jason Romero.
“Good Good Man”, the new single from Windsor ON singer-songwriter Glen MacNeil is something a little bit different from what we’ve heard from Glen in the past. Inspired by his grandfather, with an upbeat bluegrass feel, it features members of the Western Swing Authority (Shane Guse – fiddle, Paul Chapman – acoustic guitar and mandolin and Matt Lima on stand-up bass) alongside Dale Rivard on dobro.
“‘Good Good Man’ was rolling around in my head for a few years. This song was inspired by my grandfather Hugh MacInnis (my Mom’s father) I knew this song was special and would be very different from any other song I had written. I also knew I needed top notch musicians to perform on this track so I called on a couple of my music friends to help me get in touch with some of the best musicians who could create what I was hearing in my head. I couldn’t be happier with what these guys brought to the table. They are total pros. They brought ‘Good Good Man’ to life for me. It was amazing to work with them on this track.”
We’ve really been enjoying “Drugstore Dreamin'” the latest album from Halifax NS based singer-songwriter Willie Stratton. On this episode we play the upbeat and bouncy title track which has a real Neil Hannon and Divine Comedy feel to it.
I’m an Aqua Velva man,
You better believe I’ll be drugstore dreamin’
Dreaming all that I can (Willie Stratton, Drugstore Dreamin’)
“This song was inspired by just doing my regular errands, daydreaming, walking through the aisles in my own world. I find myself doing a lot of thinking in those situations. I wanted to emulate the landscape of a middle class North American suburban town in the 60’s, with a slow and floaty vibe.”
We wrapped the episode with one of our favourite songwriters, Edmonton AB’s Joe Nolan and his latest single, “Start The Car”. This song is interesting in that it was actually released as a hidden track at the end of the CD version of Joe’s most recent album “Scrapper” – one of our favourite albums of 2021.
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!
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Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises
Roll Right (2019, self)
Call Me A Woman
Running Deep (2022, Self) CDN
Heirlooms (2022, Self) CDN
On The Blind Side
(single) (2022, Stonefly Records) CDN
Gunner & Smith
Find Your Own Way
(single) (2022, DevilDuck Records) CDN
Libre )2022, Coach House Music) CDN
Honest Light (feat. Caroline Marie Brooks)
Cerulean (2022, Self) CDN
Atoms Of The Apartment
(single) (2022, Self) CDN
A Night Beyond Repair
Shrug (2022, HR-2022) CDN
Statue’s In The Stone
(single) (2022, Self) CDN
Robert Thomas & The Sessionmen
In A Week Or Two
Parallel Lines (2022, Self) CDN
Pharis & Jason Romero
Tell ‘Em You Were Gold (2022, Smithsonian Folkways) CDN
Good Good Man
(single) (2022, Self) CDN
Drugstore Dreamin’ (2022, Turtlemusik) CDN
Start The Car
(single) (2022, Fallen Tree Records) CDN