Archive for the ‘Folk Music’ Category

Ten Days Too Late

May 12, 2009

I’ve proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip’s worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

Bruce Cockburn

Pacing the Cage

Finally a new episode of the podcast is up today. In it I continue the discussion of Slice O Life by Bruce Cockburn and even play a song from the album.  I also talk about baseball and play a song by the very talented Andy Mckee. Expect to hear more of his work on upcoming episodes of the show. As always you can find the podcast on iTunes, here, or over there–>

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My Insides Twist About

April 6, 2009

We follow the footsteps of the Spanish through the streets of Santiago.

Doug Folkins

Santiago

Today I am reviewing Another Last Call by Doug Folkins.  You can pick it up on iTunes or here.

Doug Folkins is a New Brunswicker living on North Vancouver Island.  His music is clearly rooted in the aesthetics of the East Coast. In the last 9 years he has released 5 albums, and played countless shows.  Although I have not been fortunate to catch him live, the 3 bonus tracks on his latest album give a taste of what must be an electric performance.

At the outset I should say that although I do enjoy the east coast/celtic musical tradition, it is not at the top of my regular music rotation.  So even though I am familiar with many of the great names, I am not as well versed in that particular indie scene.  I do hope that Doug is a good representation because I enjoyed this album.

Another Last Call lives up to its name by being the perfect music for an evening at the pub.  His songs have enough punch and bounce to keep spirits high, while providing meaningful lyrics.  A song like Streets of Rome (which appeared on an earlier episode  of the podcast) belongs with some of the best Celtic music out there.  I give him credit for providing an interesting vignette about a trip abroad in an unexpected package. The album contains 10 studio tracks and 3 bonus live takes.

Another stand out track is King Henry’s Good Times.  It could be the subject matter, but it’s more likely the catchy beat and sing-a-long melody.  I think this track is one of the best on the album and would be the one I suggest you get if none else.

I found that the songs seem to fall into two categories, those about traveling and those about adventures at bars and pubs.  I think that works perfectly with the music, and as we all know, a  lot of the best celtic music is about drinking.  I wonder if Doug would view Another Last Call as a kind of concept album.  It’s subject matter does seem to revolve around those main themes.

Doug’s back up group are all very proficient musicians, including some of Spirit of the West, and I was impressed with the rich and professional production, something that is sometimes missing on indie releases. The live tracks (recorded with The Molly Hogans) are also slick and clear.

Overall, Another Last Call is an enjoyable piece of East Coast/roots music.  I can definitely hear the influence of country music in these songs.  I would recommend this album if you enjoy the work of Spirit of the West, Great Big Sea, or, perhaps surprisingly, someone like Conway Twitty. Doug does a good job of telling simple, yet interesting stories set to solid music.  One of the big challenges for someone playing East Coast inspired music is to escape the stereotype of being a St. Patrick’s Day and pub band.  I think that Doug is well on his way to doing that.  I hope he continues to explore possibilities outside of his comfort zone.

Doug has been recognized by many other podcasters and more mainstream media members. The future is bright for this songwriter.  Another Last Call is worth checking out, so get on over to iTunes and preview away.

They Say That Richard Cory Owns One Half of This Whole Town

February 3, 2009

I can hear the soft breathing of the girl that I love, as she lies here beside me, asleep with the night, her hair in a fine mist, floats on my pillow, reflecting the glow of the winter’s moonlight,

I’ve got to creep down the alleyway, fly down the highway, before they come to get me I’ll be gone, somewhere, they can’t find me.

Simon & Garfunkel

Somewhere They Can’t Find Me

Regular followers of The Alder Fork know that I tend to look backwards a lot, in the hopes of embracing the feeling of nostalgia, and resurrecting creative ideas that remain relevant.  In today’s post I am tackling one of my all time favourite albums (as mentioned on a recent podcast episode) Simon & Garfunkel’s 1966 classic Sounds of Silence.  This was the group’s second album under that name, having previously released music as Tom and Jerry, and as solo artists.  It was the first album to feature tracks that were virtually all written by Paul Simon, as their previous LP featured a number of covers and traditional tunes.  At the time of the album’s release, the title track was already extremely popular as an overdubbed version of the acoustic original.  It later appeared in the film The Graduate several times.

I first listened to this album from front to back when I picked up a CD copy at a used music store in high school.  I took it along with me on a trip to Europe because I loved it so much.  To me the most interesting thing about Simon & Garfunkel in general is that in a time where rock & roll, psychedelic rock, and rebellious folk rock were popular, they were receiving widespread acclaim for songs that, while folky, touched on a wide variety of themes.  Sounds of Silence was certainly in the Bob Dylan tradition, but April Come She Will, I am a Rock, and Blessed were a little off kilter from a lot of other mid-sixties popular music.  Yet they fit in beautifully and found themselves playing to appreciative audiences across America, and at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival.

Musically, the album ventures in directions that had recently been pioneered by Bob Dylan in the folk genre. For their first effort, and the solo Paul Simon Songbook of 1965, the music arrangements were simple and centred on the acoustic guitar.  This album contains multiple instruments and sounds supporting the trademark vocal harmonies of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

The one track I will expand on is quoted at the start of this entry. Somewhere They Can’t Find Me began life as Wednesday Morning 3 A.M. the title track of the groups debut album.  I actually don’t enjoy that version very much, it is far too slow for my liking.  The reworked version on Sounds of Silence moves along at the speed you’d expect from a song about running away after committing a crime.  The story of a young man abandoning his love after robbing a liquor store is the type of vignette that Paul Simon excels at writing (see A Most Peculiar Man and Richard Cory for other examples on this album).  The opening riff, which seems isolated from the rest of song, reappears later on the album in Anji, an instrumental cover. Unlike other Simon and Garfunkel tracks this one relies less on vocal harmonies than rock & roll power. Again this is fitting given the theme of the song.  The contrast of this song with most of the others on the album is very noticeable.

Sounds of Silence is a classic album that has been critically acclaimed and widely loved.  Paul Simon’s songwriting had come into it’s own with his earlier work and would only get better over time.  The group was still climbing towards its musical peak, and would play some fantastic live shows in the next few years.  A couple of those are available on CD, and I’d recommend checking them out.