Join us on Episode 649 of Folk Roots Radio as we take a look at more of the latest new releases. This time around we check out new music from Leyla McCalla, Rosanne Baker Thornley, Amanda Rheaume, Waymzy, Aysanabee, Colleen Brown, Joe Nolan, String Bone, Moira & Claire, Six One Five Collective, Terra Spencer & Ben Caplan and Paul Carrack. We also include three songs from acclaimed Canadian songwriter Shirley Eikhard, the composer of Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy Award winning song “Something To Talk About”, who sadly left us recently. 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.
We started off the episode with Leyla McCalla and “Vini We” from her latest album “Breaking The Thermometer”. The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Breaking The Thermometer explores the legacy of Radio Haiti — Haiti’s first radio station to report the news in Haitian Kreyòl, as the voice of the people.
According to Leyla, this collection is also a deeply personal reckoning with memory and identity, and the roles of artists, activists and immigrants in modern society; as well as the very notion of storytelling itself.
Born out of a multi-disciplinary theater project commissioned by Duke University – which acquired the complete Radio Haiti archives in 2016, Breaking The Thermometer combines original compositions and traditional Haitian tunes with historical broadcasts and contemporary interviews to forge an immersive sonic journey through a half century of racial, social, and political unrest.
“The more I researched this project, the more I found myself examining my own sense of Haitian-ness. I spent a lot of time recalling my experiences visiting Haiti as a child, thinking deeply about the moments in my life when I felt very Haitian and the moments when I didn’t. In the end, the music and the stories here all brought me to a more nuanced understanding of both the country and myself.”
“Strong” comes from “Sorry I’m Late”, the sophomore release from Toronto’s Rosanne Baker Thornley and the follow-up to her debut album “Courage” which actually came out in 1994. The follow-up may have been long time coming, but it’s a very welcome release. It’s also an album that made it on to our long list of Our Favourite Albums of 2022.
We wrapped our opening set with Métis-Canadian singer-songwriter Amanda Rheaume and “Right By Your Side” from her latest recording, “The Spaces In Between”; an album that reflects on moments in history of the Métis people in Canada alongside Amanda’s own lived experience.
This episode’s instrumental comes from five times Canadian step dancing champion and guitarist Kyle Waymouth, who makes music as a solo artist as Waymzy. The original composition “The Ancient” comes from Kyle’s 2022 album “Inchoate” which is up for a 2023 Canadian Folk Music Award in the solo instrumental category. The album was produced by Jake Charron from The East Pointers, and the driving beat in the tune gives it a little bit of the crossover feel we get in an East Pointers instrumental. Kyle Waymouth also performs with numerous groups including The Fitzgeralds, Shane Cook, and Dan Stacey.
Toronto based indigenous multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer songwriter Aysanabee is Oji-Cree, from the Sucker Clan of the Sandy Lake First Nation – a remote fly-in community in the far reaches of Northwestern Ontario. Aysanabee started making music under his mother’s name during the pandemic. He describes his debut album “WATIN” as being both a musical and journalistic endeavour. The album is named after his grandfather and includes nine spoken word interludes featuring the voice of his grandfather, alongside the ten musical tracks. The song we played on this episode is the intriguingly titled “Ego Death”.
“’WATIN’ actually started out as a series of conversations between myself and my grandfather. We spent the first year of the pandemic talking about things we’ve never spoke about, his life on the trapline on Sandy Lake First Nation, falling in love, his life in residential school and then leaving everything behind… we never spoke of it until now. Even though we were over 1,000 kilometres apart, it was probably the closest we’ve ever been.”
“As The Crow Flies” is the story of a fragile romance. You can find it on Toronto based singer-songwriter Colleen Brown‘s latest recording “Winging It”, a breakup album chockfull of thoughtful lyrics that weaves together Colleen’s folk, roots, Americana, and pop influences.
“My Old Marie” from Edmonton AB singer-songwriter Joe Nolan also features Sarah Pagé on harp. You can find it on Joe’s latest album “Lost Verses”; 11 songs taken from notes in his private journals reflecting on this complicated thing we call life. It’s a great album and one that is sure to figure in Our Favourite Albums of 2023.
Stratford ON’s Barry James Payne makes music as singer-songwriter String Bone. His folk/pop ballad “Just Cry” was written, recorded and produced with his Canadian expat production partner George Leger III who now lives in Las Vegas. It’s the fourth single from String Bone’s forthcoming album “Coping Mechanisms”.
Young Nova Scotian indie-folk duo Moira & Claire have released their coming-of-age project EP “I’m not usually this forward, but…”, a recording they describe as focused around emotional vulnerability and the need for courage to speak up boldly about how you are feeling. On this episode we play “Still Feel Alone”.
Nashville based 70s inspired supergroup Six One Five Collective feature solo artists Jamie Floyd, Michael Logen, Nicole Witt and Sarah Darling. They have released a great cover of The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” which you can find on their latest EP “Coastin'”, which they describe as having a West Coast Californian 70s vibe. We love the harmonies on their great acoustic version of this song, although we were actually completely unfamiliar with the original, despite it apparently becoming a monster hit. We know which version we prefer! Still, whatever way it’s dressed up, it is clearly a great song. Oh, and 615 is the area code for Nashville.
“We thought our 4-part harmony would add an interesting spin to the original, taking this synth driven song in a folky direction. We sang the chorus and immediately got chills. It was a very special moment knowing we were recording our own unique version of a well-known song! Whenever you’re recording a cover, it’s important to really make it your own and I believe we accomplished that.” (Nicole Witt)
“It’s so fun to collaborate with other artists/songwriters that you respect so much! I feel like, more than anything, we all shine a little brighter together on the Coastin’ EP.” (Sarah Darling)
We included three songs in this episode from Shirley Eikhard, who we sadly lost recently after a courageous battle with cancer. The uplifting “The Nature Of Life”, which has a wonderful Caribbean island feel to it, comes from 2012’s “Dream Of A Perfect Day”. We followed that with Shirley’s alternate bluegrass version of “Something to Talk About”. According to her friend, retired publicist Richard Flohil, “Something To Talk About” was originally expected to be on Anne Murray’s 1986 album of the same name, but it was dropped at the last minute because it was felt to be too country for Anne, who was being steered in more of a middle-of-the-road Adult Contemporary direction. The final song in our tribute set “Good News” comes from Shirley’s last studio album “On My Way To You” from 2022. A great songwriter. She’ll be missed.
We wrapped up the hour with one of the great voices, and another excellent songwriter, Paul Carrack – once the front man for great 70’s band Ace (of “How Long” fame). Paul has also sung and played keyboards with loads of artists over the years including Squeeze, Nick Lowe, Mike & The Mechanics, and many more. Paul is still putting out great music as a solo artist. You’re Not Alone” comes from his latest album “One On One”. A perfect way to wrap up this episode.
“I’d say the song is self-explanatory, but the sentiment is one of unquestioning commitment and support.”
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!
Image Credit: That’s a photo of Jan with her mum – who although she left us physically a few months ago, is definitely still around. One foot in front of the other…
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)
Breaking The Thermometer (2022, Anti-)
The Nature Of Life
Dream Of A Perfect Day (2012, Self) CDN
Rosanne Baker Thornley
Sorry I’m Late (2022, Self) CDN
Right By Your Side
The Spaces In Between (2022, Ishkōdé Records) CDN
Inchoate (2022, Self) CDN
WATIN (2022, Ishkōdé Records) CDN
As The Crow Flies
Winging It (2022, Flatcar Records / Fontana North) CDN
My Old Marie (feat. Sarah Pagé)
Lost Verses (2022, Fallen Tree Records) CDN
Coping Mechanisms (2022, Space Cowboy Records) CDN
Moira & Claire
Still Feel Alone
I’m Not Usually This Forward, But… (2022, Ticklegrass Records) CDN
Something To Talk About (Bluegrass Version)
Country (2005, Self) CDN
On My Way To You (2022, Self) CDN
You’re Not Alone
One On One (2022, Carrack-UK)