David Francey's new album Empty Train chronicles lives of everyday Canadians

Canadian folk singer-songwriter David Francey paints a series of portraits as if he was a fly on the wall in his latest album Empty Train.

Empty Train delivers perspective on what it means to be Canadian in 2016

Canadian folk singer-songwriter David Francey paints a series of portraits as if he was a fly on the wall in his latest album Empty Train.

Francey, a three-time Juno award winner, drew inspiration from everyone from night clubbers to those anxiously stewing in hospital waiting rooms. 

"It's an observational record as opposed to a very kind of intimate, individual record," said Francey, on Saskatchewan Weekend.

"I keep my eyes open, I see something, it moves me and I start writing about it." 

Before he began plucking the strings on his guitar for a living, Francey worked long hours at a construction site as a manual labourer. While it wasn't the most glamorous gig, Francey said years after leaving the construction site he still draws on memories he had on the rooftop of a work site for writing material. 

Similarly, Francey said the the song Mirror Ball is actually a true story about the time he climbed out of the bush and into a nightclub in Whitehorse.

"It's just about being at a dance, being a watcher of the dance, a fly on the wall, but [part] of that song directly comes from coming out of the bush when I was like 19-years-old and going on a company tear in Whitehorse ... and I went to my first disco ever and I was absolutely fascinated with it and I'll never forget that."

Tough times turned into tracks on new album  

From his nervous and somewhat awkward time in the Yukon, the album switches gears to tackle more serious subjects like mortality.

Recently Francey noticed taking more trips to the hospital. Having recently said goodbye to his best friend, and losing his father nearly a decade ago, Francey tries to capture the emotion of patients in hospital and the fear and stress that came from not knowing if you were going to make it out alive.

"It made me realize that everyone walking through those doors as a patient and stuff, you might get home but you never know, and it made me feel sort of melancholic about the whole thing and fortunately my dad got home that time, he was home for a few months before he went back and he didn't make it out the second time," Francey said.

"It's an environment where you can't help but watch people and wonder what's going on with them."

So how did Francey decide to sing about his neighbours?

"My thoughts on songwriting especially folk music, always come back to  chronicling your time," he said.

"If you look back at folk music through the ages they've all chronicled what was happening in the day … So there are always visions into the past and I think we should try to be doing, with our own writing as folk singers, to chronicle our time and so all those people are part of the mosaic."


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