Stephen Fearing announces new album

Stephen Fearing

For multiple JUNO Award winner Stephen Fearing, a cross-country relocation – from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia – kicked off a period of reflection that inspired the songs which became Every Soul’s A Sailor, his ninth solo record.

While they span a range of musical styles from folk to pop to boot-stomping roots, the tracks share a common focus – the value of The Journey; the various paths we take in love, life, and even after-love, and the after-life.

From the late-night introspection and driving beat of ‘Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is’, asking listeners to reflect on how life’s energies were spent, to the haunting and ethereal ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’, featuring guest harmonies by Rose Cousins, the record gave Fearing the opportunity to blend his musical realms.

 “I have travelled consistently between the two poles of solo and ensemble work. With this album I wanted to see if I could bring those two worlds together in the studio and then out on the road,” he explains.

This sonic blend created an ideal environment for Fearing’s first (in a long time) straight-up protest song, ‘Blowhard Nation’. As a spectator of Donald Trump’s con-man campaign of hate and fear, it came from a place of humour and sarcastic outrage and ended up a Merle Haggard-inspired roots rock anthem that leaves you wanting to two-step straight to your local tavern.

“Once the songs were written, I asked master drummer Gary Craig to help me shape them into what you are listening to. We chopped down the intros, added a chorus here, a half verse there, and generally aimed to ensure that even the slower tempos had trajectory and momentum.”

Together with Craig and bassist John Dymond, both of whom Fearing has worked with extensively over the past 20 years on solo projects and as the rhythm section for Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, they created a lush, propulsive sound that draws in the listener with an almost hypnotic, effect.

The album also gave Fearing a chance to work with David Travers-Smith at the console (listen too for his poignant horns on ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’). “Over the years we’ve worked together now and again, but it was always in my mind to make a record with him co-producing and engineering. David is passionately meticulous and these songs were shaped and polished by him.”

Stephen Fearing is a founding member of the Canadian super-group Blackie and The Rodeo Kings. Over the course of his celebrated career he has collaborated with a long list of artists including: Nick Lowe, Shawn Colvin, Richard Thompson, Pam Tillis, Bruce Cockburn, Sarah McLachlan, Tom Wilson, Colin Linden, Margo Timmins, and many more.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Stephen Fearing link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

DOWNLOAD –

Artist’s website: http://www.stephenfearing.com/

‘Every Soul’s A Sailor’ – official video:

HANNAH SANDERS & BEN SAVAGE – Before The Sun (Sungrazing Records SGR002)

Before The SunHannah Sanders first solo album, Charms Against Sorrow, was produced by Willows guitarist Ben Savage who also played on the record and shared in the arrangements. With Before The Sun their partnership has been formalised but little else has changed except that the duo went to Toronto to record with David Travers-Smith.

To the mix of traditional songs and covers is now added some originals and the first ‘The Fall (Hang)’ opens the set. I’m still puzzling over this track – it could be a reinterpretation of a murder ballad or a macabre accident like Bob Pegg’s ‘The Hanged Man’. I think I lean towards the former. Next is the first traditional song, ‘Come All Ye Fair & Tender Maids’, a mid-Atlantic version finished with a playground round. ‘What’s It Tonight My Love?’, another original, sees Ben take the first lead vocal. Its description of night in the city puts me in mind of ‘Chimes Of Freedom’ even though there is no resemblance between the two songs, other than the feeling that it leaves you with.

Next come three traditional songs. The first is ‘Lady Margaret’, an English song with variants in the United States. ‘Clayton Boone’ is definitely American and gives Ben another lead vocal and the chance to play Dobro. It is, of course, a variant of ‘Gypsy Davy’. Finally in this section we have the haunting ‘Deep Blue Sea’, a version that doesn’t quite match any set of lyrics that I can find. Hannah and Ben’s version is rather more gentle than the standard text and rather lovely.

Hannah and Ben play guitars, dulcimer and autoharp and are joined by Kevin Breit and Katriona Gilmore on melody instruments with Evan Carson and Jon Thorne on percussion and double bass. For the most part they are used sparingly but they do get to have a blow on Richie Stearns’ ‘Ribbons And Bows’. Joining them on vocals are Jim Causley, Robin Gillan and Jade Rhiannon.

The final track is ‘Boots Of Spanish Leather’ sung as a duet as it is written. They slow it down a bit and the singing is sad and wistful where Dylan managed a blend of bitterness and resignation. He knew the back-story, of course, and it all happened fifty years ago but I’d advise anyone tackling the song to read the relevant section of a biography. It’s beautifully performed, as is the whole of the album, but to an old curmudgeon like me it misses something.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the HANNAH SANDERS & BEN SAVAGE – Before The Sun link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

Artists’ website: http://www.hannahbenmusic.com/

‘Come All Ye Fair And Tender Maids’ – official video: