Flyinshoes Review

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http://www.stephenfearing.com/

       Stephen Fearing has been a high-profile figure on the Canadian music scene for a long while, most notably as a member of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. He gets involved in all sorts of projects and this is his first solo album in seven years, a period that has seen substantial change in his life. His marriage broke up and he subsequently relocated from Ontario to Nova Scotia, remarried and became a father. Other disruptions came along, too, and this album is primarily a series of reflections on all that, the whys and wherefores and where-nexts of hitting the mid-life crossroads.

         Working with co-producer/keyboardsman John Whynot, Fearing has made an album that is warm, intimate and considered in mood. There’s little sign here of the man who knows well how to rock out; the focus is very much on the words as the instrumentation – quite a lot of piano, bass and acoustic guitar, but also some beautiful synthesiser backwashes – build the mood around songs that reach for the honest emotional truth of some difficult times in life. It’s that sense that here is an artist stretching to produce the most honest work he possibly can that has me absolutely loving Between Hurricanes. He’s not always the most fluid of writers and some lines really clunk when he’s not quite nailed the phrase to fit the moment – you try singing along to a chorus that runs “so light a fire and shed your misconceptions and throw them onto the blaze” (These Golden Days, a gently upbeat number) – but the emotional directness cuts through any such difficulties for me. You just can’t help but warm to a man who uses a lifetime’s experience as a professional musician to bring us something that rings so true.

          The Canadian music scene is fascinating, full of quirky paths that just don’t seem to crop up south of the 49th parallel; these guys are also proudly supportive of each other, and it’s pretty typical that it’s a cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s Early Morning Rain cropping up as the bonus track. Of all the aspects of this album that I’m taken with, though, the biggest surprise is to be won over by hearing Stephen Fearing discovering his inner crooner: there’s no other word to describe the quiet warmth he brings to the tenderest songs here, and it’s a lovely sound indeed. 

John Davy

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
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RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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