Toronto singer-songwriter Lynn Harrison joins us on Episode 657 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about her seventh solo album “Treasure”, a goose-bump inducing new recording that Lynn describes as ‘uplifting songs for complicated times’. It’s certainly an album that provides you with a clear reminder about what is really important in life – and it’s an inspiring and uplifting conversation. We wrap up the episode with more new releases, and this time around we’ve decided to stay with female artists and feature great new songs from Karan Casey, Rachel Baiman, Iris DeMent, April Verch & Cody Walters and Mary Gauthier. 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.
Toronto singer-songwriter and ordained Unitarian Universalist minister Lynn Harrison has just released her latest album, her seventh solo recording “Treasure”, twelve songs that share an inspirational message of love, hope and justice. Another beautiful recording, it’s the follow up to “Something More”, which became one of Our Favourite Albums of 2020. The new album, which was again produced by Douglas September, features Lynn Harrison on acoustic guitar and vocals, with support from Bob Cohen on acoustic guitar, electric guitar, ukulele, banjo, tambourine and mandolin; Douglas September (pedal steel) with David Woodhead (bass) and Ambrose Pottie on drums.
Since 2016, Lynn has been serving at First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, however she will be leaving that post in October 2023 to allow her to share her wisdom and musical gift throughout the Unitarian Universalist network in Southern Ontario while also giving her more time to focus on her music career.
The Songs We Played… (in Lynn Harrison’s own words)
This Quiet Life: A sunny, bouncy shuffle that affirms the value of simplicity, family, and love. It offers a mature perspective, and gently provides an inspirational example of the benefit of contemplative stillness.
Let’s Talk to Each Other Like Trees: Let’s Talk to Each Other Like Trees is a thoughtful, poignant meditation on communicating at the soul level, with other people, and with the earth. The lyrics to this song inspired the album’s cover and liner art. A full-band performance showcasing the skills of Bob Cohen on guitar, David Woodhead on bass, and Ambrose Pottie on drums, “Every Precious Day” makes a powerful case for appreciating the sacred beauty of our fleeting time on earth. This is one of the two songs that inspired the album title Treasure.
Me and My Swinging Mood: A winning combination of strong electric guitars, propulsive banjo, and mandolin – all expertly played by the redoubtable Bob Cohen. The song reflects thoughtfully yet humourously on the ups-and-downs of the pandemic, and beyond.
Holding It Together (As the World Falls Apart): A sunny and optimistic song that bristles with full-band energy.
Treasure is an album about staying sane in a mad world; about facing change with love and optimism; a 12-song prayer cycle that’s both personal and universal – from a songwriter’s songwriter, whose deft lyricism, melodic sensibilities, and captivating voice are second to none. Harrison reveals the things she treasures, and in doing so, provides a map to our own. Listening to Treasure is like having a spiritual experience without having to go to any church.
For more information about the music of Lynn Harrison, visit lynoleum.com.
We started off the episode with Karan Casey, one of Ireland’s finest songwriters with her ode to female solidarity and friendship “Sister I Am Here For You”, a beautiful duet with fellow Irish singer-songwriter and fiddle player Niamh] Dunne. You can find it on Karan Casey’s latest album “Nine Apples of Gold”.
“Sister I Am Here For You” is really about female camaraderie and friendship, but also about passing on the baton to younger women. In writing the song with Sean Óg Graham, we talked a lot about the sisterhood, about the need for a feminist song speaking to the bond that can be built through collaborating and working together, all genders, campaigning for women’s rights everywhere in the world, to write a singalong that is uplifting and joyful.“
“Bitter” comes from, “Common Nation of Sorrow”, the third solo recording from Nashville based Rachel Baiman. It’s an album which takes its lead from the on-going cost of living crisis, and the generational economic disparity that is significantly impacting the lives and future prospects of many young people.
“When I was a kid, my dad was in this tiny fringe political group called the Democratic Socialists of America. That was considered extreme, something I didn’t tell my friends about. Now my generation has had to wake up to the intensity of our own economic oppression. We sit around talking about how anyone affords to buy a house, and how we can get rich people to pay for our albums.”
Iris DeMent is back with new music 30 years after the release of her critically acclaimed debut “Infamous Angel”. “Workin’ On A World” is the title track from her latest recording, and seventh studio release. It’s a song that grew out of the fallout from the 2016 US Presidential Election. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you about what happened then. Workin’ On A World is a rallying call for activists everywhere… change is difficult, and may be slow… but you should never give up… even if you don’t get to see it through.
“Every day some new trauma was being added to the old ones that kept repeating themselves, and like everybody else, I was just trying to bear up under it all. My mom always had a way of finding the song that would prove equal to whatever situation we were facing. Throughout my life, songs have been lending me a hand. Writing songs, singing songs, putting them on records, has been a way for me to extend that hand to others.”
I’m workin’ on a world I may never see
Joinin’ forces with the warriors of love
Who came before and will follow you and me
I get up in the mornin’ knowing I’m privileged to be
Workin’ on a world I may never see. (lyric)
The instrumental on this episode comes from Ottawa Valley raised fiddler, singer and step-dancer April Verch and partner Cody Walters and their version of Bob Carlin’s “Ain’t Gonna Get No Supper Here Tonight”. You can find it on April Verch’s latest album “Passages & Partings”.
“When Cody first joined the band I was listening to old time fiddlers at American festivals and loving it, while Cody was learning old time clawhammer banjo on the road, and practicing that in any of his free time. We started playing and working on fiddle and banjo tunes, which really helped my playing in that style. I also received encouragement and mentorship when we were touring in places like Virginia. Those early days of playing together really helped shape where we’ve ended up years later, blending Canadian old time and American old time and Classic Country music.” (April Verch)
“‘Ain’t Gonna Get No Supper Here Tonight’ is a difficult piece for us to stop playing once we get going, it’s just so much fun. That one nails it for me, and I still hear our source recording from Bob Carlin along with the late Pete Sutherland’s fiddle in my mind. It’s so raw and real.” (Cody Walters)
We wrapped up the episode with the fabulous Mary Gauthier and “Thank God For You”, a song that she wrote with Caleb Elliot and Peter Case as a simple thank you after discovering contentment. In Mary’s case that meant meeting and settling down her life partner, singer-songwriter Jaimee Harris.
You can also think of it as a thank you for the special people we have in all our lives… and we’re including all the people that listen to this radio show in that, too. Thank You!
You can find “Thank God For You” on Mary Gauthier’s latest album, her excellent post pandemic release “Dark Enough To See The Stars”.
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!
Photo Credit: David McLachlan (Treasure Release Show, Eastminster Church, Toronto, February 25 2023).
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.)
His Mother Called Him Angel (Instrumental Version) (Theme)
Abandoned Companions (2018, Self) CDN
Sister I Am Here For You (feat. Niamh Dunne)
Nine Apples of Gold (2023, Crow Valley Music)
Common Nation of Sorrow (2023, Signature Sounds)
Workin’ On A World
Workin’ On A World (2023, Flariella Records)
April Verch & Cody Walters
Ain’t Gonna Get No Supper Here Tonight
Passages & Partings (2023, Slab Town Records)
This Quiet Life
Treasure (2023, Self)
Interview: Lynn Harrison chats about new album “Treasure”.
Let’s Talk To Each Other Like Trees
Treasure (2023, Self)
Me And My Swinging Mood
Treasure (2023, Self)
Holding It Together (As The World Falls Apart)
Treasure (2023, Self)
Thank God For You
Dark Enough To See The Stars (2022, In The Black / Thirty Tigers)