Tue, Jun 10, 2014.
Newfoundland and Labrador are full of stories of course, and a songwriter could easily spend their whole career basing their work on the tales and people. Ian Foster has done some of that over the course of his six albums, including this brand-new one. That journey has also taken him across the country and opened up a fan base for him in Europe, and that's led him to find more folks, and more stories. The new one is called The Great Wave, and features a folk-rock sound, mixed in with some solid, heartwarming ballads. You'll find a few traditional instruments, such as accordion and bodhran, but overall it's a modern album in its sound, and classic in its melodies. Any historic parts are found in the stories.
If you do it right, touring can be the source of your next batch for a songwriter. Getting to play shows in Italy led Foster to the title track, when he was told what it was like in a small town during WW II. The sad piano ballad with its dramatic drums in the chorus tells of an old castle, a young child's playground, and how life there was changed when the soldiers arrived. Ethie goes back to a 1919 shipwreck on the northern coast of Newfoundland, but rather than the narrative style of, say, The Wreck Of the Edmund Fitzgerald, it doesn't give many details, but offers up the emotion: "This is our chance now, as the tide is going out." Caught in a raging storm, the crew of S.S. Ethie somehow managed to save all on board, by crashing through the rocks to get close to shore. As good as he is at capturing dramatic moments, Foster enjoys the lighter side of life as well, with Right Here an upbeat mandolin number about slowing down and realizing that "maybe it's easier than we ever thought it could be." Foster has a great handle on what a 21st century folk performer should be doing.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).