Join us on Episode 646 of Folk Roots Radio for another hour of the best new folk, roots and Americana releases with some great singer-songwriters thrown into the mix. This time around we check out new music from Kristen Martell, Barbra Lica, Rosanne Baker Thornley, Happy Traum, Windborne, Peter Mulvey & Sistastrings, John McCutcheon, Suzie Vinnick, Helen Townsend with Shannon Smith, Lily Frost, Dave Clancy and Youngtree & The Blooms. We also drop in classics from both Mary McCaslin, who we lost recently and Cheryl Wheeler, who is currently taking a break from her career to rebalance her mental health. We love the way this episode came together. We’re sure you’ll enjoy it. Remember, If you like the artists you hear on this show and want to support them, don’t just stream their music – BUY their music, and then you’ll really make a difference to their income at a time when it is becoming much more difficult to make a living as a musician. Check out the full playlist below.
Nova Scotia singer-songwriter Kristen Martell kicked off the episode with “Here No More”, which also features Old Man Luedecke on banjo,. You can find it on Kristen’s latest album “Every Season”, which reflects on changes that occur throughout our lives – the many new beginnings we all face, not just the changing of the seasons.
Staying in Toronto we also listened to folk-jazz singer-songwriter Barbra Lica with the beautiful “Take Care Of You”, a song all about taking the time to be there for someone you really care about in times of need, from Barbra’s latest, an EP, “Imposter Syndrome”.
“‘Take Care Of You’ is a song about the kind of friendship we’re all looking for – people who really see us and listen attentively as we pour our hearts out. All too often, talking about your feelings is like sharing YouTube videos: everyone’s smiling and nodding and waiting for their turn to take over. The lyrics to this song are the words I’d love to hear more during hard times, and the words I endeavour to practice myself. Empathy is too rare and extremely beautiful.”
“Perfect Heart” comes from Rosanne Baker Thornley‘s sophomore release “Sorry I’m Late”, the follow-up to her debut “Courage” which actually came out in 1994. A long time coming, but a very welcome release.
Another great folk singer-songwriter has left us. Mary McCaslin, one of the most influential folk artists of the 70s, sadly passed recently. We paid tribute to her life and career with the classic title track from her 1977 Best Of… compilation, “Things We Said Today”.
The instrumental on this episode comes from Happy Traum; “Santa Cruz Blues” is an improvised duet featuring veteran drummer Eric Parker alongside the rich sounds of Happy’s signature Santa Cruz guitar. It wasn’t the only tune from Happy Traum we played on this episode as we also included a vocal track from the new album that contains a little bit of hope for everyone – the traditional song and title track, “There’s A Bright Side Somewhere”.
“Fourpence a Day” is a traditional English folk song that laments the dismal working conditions and starvation wages workers experienced in the lead mines of Northern England. With some changes to the lyrics, the vocal group Windborne has created a new version of the song, “Four Cents A Play”, which now expresses the serious concerns many musicians have about trying to make a living in the streaming age. You can find it on Windborne’s latest album, “Of Hard Times & Harmony”. It’s also the reason why we encourage you where possible to buy the artists music, rather than just stream it.
We also squeezed in another song from Wisconsin based Peter Mulvey‘s new album. A song reflecting on the craziness currently affecting political discourse in the US, “Oh My Dear (The Demagogue)” comes from “Love Is The Only Thing”, Peter’s excellent release with string players Monique Ross and Chauntee Ross (who are better known as Sistastrings). A fabulous recording, it’s sure to feature in Our Favourite Albums of 2022.
“I think it was Robin Williams who apologized to Canada – such a kind, funny, lovely country. ‘Like a nice apartment located over a meth lab’. America, we’ve been worried about you for a while. Paul Cebar and I sat down to write this together. The narrator is wondering whether he and America belong in couples therapy or divorce court.”
Acclaimed singer-songwriter John McCutcheon wonders what would happen if you ran into someone wearing a piece of clothing you’d donated on “Nobody Knows” from his latest album “Leap”. “What would happen if you ran into someone wearing a shirt you’d donated to Goodwill?”
“Lift You Up” is a soulful gospel tinged song that comes from “Fall back Home”, the seventh solo recording from Suzie Vinnick. It’s a co-write with fellow Ontario singer-songwriter Karen Morand, and features guitar work from Colin Linden alongside backing vocals by Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar.
Helen Townsend from Australia, with support from Shannon Smith, reflects on what a perfect partner would be like on “If You Were Real” from Helen’s latest album, an EP, “Love Lies ‘n’ Leaving”.
“Never Looking Back” comes from “Decompression”, the tenth album from Toronto based singer-songwriter Lily Frost – which was produced by Aaron Goldstein (Daniel Romano, Le Ren, Lee Harvey Osmond)
“Aaron had a vision for my next record – something real with a focus on the songwriting, and ‘as live’ and not overproduced, like Carole King. That spoke to me. Overall, it’s quite melancholic and earnest. The songs deal with change, self-love, desire, loss, and more. I’m on a path to deep healing and awareness and music has always been my way to process and transmute difficult times into something of strength.”
“I am at the point where I want to share the songs I keep to myself, the ones that literally help me through life. I’m not trying to be cool or get on the radio. I just want to share these real expressions that reveal the deeper truths. They are raw and vulnerable songs I normally play when no one’s looking – the songs I use to decompress. I hope they may speak to others on that deep-hearted level and maybe help them through as well.”
“They’re Leaving” comes from “The Path”, the 2020 debut album from Irish singer-songwriter Dave Clancy.
“The Path is an album of original folk songs that has been two years in the making. I’ve been a session musician for many years, and this is my first time putting music out under my own name.”
“Seas Change” is a six and a half minute song from Newfoundland’s Peter Willie Youngtree with his band ‘The Blooms’. You can find it on their self-titled album. It’s so beautiful we just knew we had to give it a spin in it’s entirety.
We wrapped things up with acclaimed singer-songwriter Cheryl Wheeler who sadly has had to step away from live performance to deal with some mental health challenges. We send her our best wishes, as we do to all facing their own challenges, during these difficult times. We picked “Howl At The Moon” from Cheryl’s 1995 album “Mrs. Pinocci’s Guitar”. It just felt like the perfect song to play.
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 – 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)
Here No More (feat. Old Man Luedecke)
Every Season (2022, Self) CDN
Take Care Of You
Imposter Syndrome (2022, Self) CDN
Rosanne Baker Thornley
Sorry I’m Late (2022, Self) CDN
Things We Said Today
Things We Said Today: The Best Of (1977, Rounder Records / Concord)
Santa Cruz Blues
There’s A Bright Side Somewhere (2022, Lark’s Nest Music)
.4 Cents A Play
Of Hard Times & Harmony (2021, Wand’ring Feet Records)
Leap! (2022, Appalseed)
There’s A Bright Side Somewhere
There’s A Bright Side Somewhere (2022, Lark’s Nest Music)
Lift You Up
Fall Back Home (2022, Self) CDN
Helen Townsend with Shannon Smith
If You Were Real
Love Lies ‘n’ Leaving (2021, Self)
Never Looking Back
Decompression (2022, Self) CDN
The Path (2020, Self)
Youngtree & The Blooms
Youngtree & The Blooms (2022, Self) CDN
Howl At The Moon
Mrs. Pinocci’s Guitar (1995, Philo Records)