CHRIS RONALD – Fragments (Borealis Records BCD 248)

FragmentsWith a solid body of work since 2004’s Pacific Time, the English-born/Canadian-based singer-songwriter, Chris Ronald has just issued album number four, titled Fragments. On this album there are traces of 1960s styled folk revivalists, 1970s singer-songwriters, contemporary writers, country and bluegrass music, bound together with Ronald’s contemporary songwriting and John Ellis’ modern production.

The wonderfully descriptive, ‘Everything Goes Green’ kicks off the album, which despite its autumnal and wintery imagery, carries an uplifting message, that everything comes to pass and that “…everything goes green…again…before too long”.

Many of the songs in this record have the sound one may typically associate with a recording from the singer songwriter ‘bag’; the nostalgic ‘Sons of Summer’, the lyrically moving ‘Grandpa’s Wedding Ring’ or the bleak and beautiful ‘Continents’, for example, in which Mike Sanyshyn’s violin sets the tone and steals the show. The mournful ‘Rain City Blues’, continues this approach, with Roland being joined by no less than four other vocalists to tell the song’s ‘story’ as it were.

But Ronald doesn’t just stick with this tried and tested formula, and even early on, numbers like ‘Get Back In The Game’ introduce a ‘bigger’ sound to the album. While this track provides mere hints of alt. country, this approach remains prominent throughout; particularly on the likes of ‘Freedom Train’ and ‘Retirement Plan’.

Fragments is an enjoyable collection of songs by a critically acclaimed folk singer. With the exception of ‘Okanagan Sunset’, all of the songs are directly from Roland’s own pen and the once nominated Songwriter of the Year proves his worth on this record. Whether this recording is your introduction to Ronald’s music or merely just an addition to the collection, it’s a good shout and likely one you will tend to revisit.

Christopher James Sheridan

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