unionevents.com & Winnipeg Folk Fest present:
FRANK TURNER & THE SLEEPING SOULS
Northcote, Mo Kenney
330 Garry St.
Winnipeg, MB, R3B 2G7
Doors 7:00 PM
This event is all ages
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
Frank Turner is aware of the passage of time, of the influence of days that drag and months that gallop can exert on what he would probably never dream of calling his body of work. After all, it has been a number of years now since the hardcore troubadour transformed himself from The Boy Who Surely Could Not, to The Man That Did; it has been years now that his name has appeared in the largest type on ticket stubs that permit entry to such venues as Wembley Arena, or the Royal Albert Hall; just as it has been years since the sound of his voice projecting itself from a digital radio was anything like a surprise, let alone a novelty.
Naturally, such upward mobility provides reasons to be cheerful, and in ways that it would be lazy to term predictable. But at the same time, the mindful songwriter will take heed: for in order to gain a foothold one can subconsciously lose an edge.
So when the time came, in the latter months of 2014, to record a new studio album, Frank took stock of his latest batch of constantly-evolving, keenly-observed vignettes and wondered, ‘What now?’
“This is my sixth album, which isn’t an inherently exciting album number, in and of itself,” he says. “Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about debut albums. When a band makes a debut record, they essentially roll into the studio and play through their extant live set. There’s freshness, an excitement to it that bands often lose as time goes by. I wanted to try and make a record that had that young, exciting feel, full of piss and vinegar. This also tied in with the fact that to date I don’t feel like I’ve made an album that captures the live experience of seeing me and the Sleeping Souls do what we do best. So I had it in my head to make a record quickly, having worked on the songs for a long time beforehand in a live setting.”
This Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – that most supple, dexterous and punishing of permanent backing bands – did, putting in hard hours as the nights drew in over a practice compound in the Oxfordshire countryside. As always, the trick lay in translating the album as it existed in Frank’s head to the point where others in his organisation were happy to lend their shoulder to its cause. The key to this exercise lay with producer Butch Walker. A noted singer-songwriter in his own right, as a technician Walker’s name appears on the production credits of albums by artists as diverse as Katy Perry, Hot Hot Heat, Pink and Fall Out Boy. But it was the American’s organic quality that caught the Englishman’s ear, his capacity to transport songs forged amid the thunder of the practice room floor to the exacting standards of the studio without compromise or equivocation.
Butch Walker understood this as if by instinct. As with producer Nick Lowe who in the 1970s would say to Elvis Costello, ‘This song has got four chords, what’s the fucking problem?’ the producer recognised that what was required was to let the musicians Trust Their Stuff, and for Walker to stand by ready to capture lightning in a bottle.
This the two parties did.
“The ‘Souls and I flew to Nashville in December with a suite of very well-rehearsed and road-tested songs, and smashed out the album in nine days,” says Turner. “Pretty much all of it is live, and I’m proud to say that with one exception every vocal take on the record is unedited as well.
“The end result is everything I wanted it to be.”
If Frank Turner & The Sleeping Soul’s fifth album, Tape Deck Heart, released in 2013, was a catharsis of licked-wounds, not to mention the sting of raw and recent personal failure, then Positive Songs For Negative People is the sound of a man putting his show back on the road. As early as the album’s second song, Get Better, Frank is fashioning a modus operandi for one whose flaws are not things of which he is necessarily ashamed.
“I’ve got no new tricks,” he sings, “and I’m up on bricks, but, me, I’m a machine and I was built to last.”
Here, the author is only partially correct – on album number six, Frank Turner <
Bookended by two acoustic tracks, Positive Songs… begins with The Angel Islington, a love letter to North London that suggests that even a man with more stamps on his passport than Alan Whicker still needs a neighbourhood – in this case, the artery that runs from Archway to the southernmost tip of Upper Street - he can call his own, and friends in this neighbourhood who primarily are interested not in what he does for a living, but for who he is as a man.
Just as remarkable, and easily just as moving, is the album’s final track. A eulogy for a friend who took the awful decision to end his own life, Song For Josh takes as its subject a man who headed the security team at Washington DC’s famous 9:30 Club. A perfectly judged, and expertly delivered, treatise in loss, love and regret, this moving composition is rendered yet more poignant for the fact that it was recorded live at the club at which Josh once worked, and with not just friends but also members of his family on hand to bear witness. As a testament to both the power of song, and the power of friendship, it is a thing of beauty to behold.
“We were passing through DC on tour not long after Josh had passed,” recalls Frank on the decision to record the album’s closing track in such a poignant setting. “I’d written the song and played it out a few times, but by now the idea of recording the song in Washington DC had began to germinate – so we made technical preparations. I only had one shot at it – I wouldn’t have played the song twice at the show. I had slightly screwed up the trial version that we recorded at that night’s soundcheck, so when it came time to perform it in front of an audience I was somewhat nervous. But in the end the Gods – or perhaps it was Josh – were smiling, and I played it the best that I ever have.”
Elsewhere, the Sleeping Souls are on hand to buck and weave, to glide and soar, and sometimes just to smash it all to pieces. From songs that are by turns playful (Love Forty Down), wise in their contentment (Mittens), or else nothing less than matters of life and death (Demons, Out Of Breath), this is a collection that faces life’s minor key moments with major key fortitude. As if this weren’t quite enough, Frank Turner’s sixth album also features a duet with Denver’s Esmé Patterson, on the song Silent Key, with the singer from the Mile High City taking the part of Christa MacAuliffe, the primary school teacher turned astronaut who died in the Challenger space shuttle calamity of 1986.
The title Positive Songs For Negative People arrived as Frank Turner’s answer to a friend’s enquiry as to how he would best explain his music, and throughout this 12 song set the sense that he, and we, can overcome is overwhelming. In spite of – perhaps, even, <
“In some ways I feel like this record is my definitive statement, a summation of the first five records,” says its creator.
Frank Turner is the author of five previous albums; they are Sleep Is For The Week, Love, Ire and Song, Poetry Of The Deed, England Keep My Bones and Tape Deck Heart. A Wessex Boy by inclination, these days his post is delivered to Holloway, North London. He intends to spend the next 18 months, and probably the rest of his life, on tour.
Matt Goud (aka Northcote) may take you by surprise when he steps up to the mic. Though the soft-spoken Goud is known by friends and family as a gentle giant, he infuses his original songs with a uniquely powerful and confident voice.
Born and raised in small-town Saskatchewan, his early exposure to music was a mix of traditional country on AM radio and the hymns he learned at his childhood church. However, it wasn't until he discovered punk and hardcore music that he realized music's healing and therapeutic power.
Over the past 8 years, few young musicians in Canada have put on as many miles as Goud who toured for years as a member of a post-hardcore band and has more recently transitioned into life on the road as a singer/songwriter with accompaniment by an ever-rotating slew of guests and friend musicians.
Northcote is set to return to centre stage in 2013 with a new self-titled album due May 7th via Black Box Recordings (Canada). Produced by Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Cave Singers, Dan Mangan) at The Hive in Vancouver, the album is Northcote's most forthcoming and confident album to date, reflecting this young songwriter's increasing maturity and experience. Breaking the stereotype of the reserved and solemn cafe singer/songwriter, the album entices both the performers and the listeners to come out of their shell.
On NORTHCOTE, Goud further strengthens his voice as an emerging Canadian artist. Confident, full chords replace contemplative ballads, and the influence of his eclectic background of punk, soul and blues create a unique sound.
On the track How Can You Turn Around, the crew vocal soars behind the chorus of the song, replicating the sound and emotion of singing along with friends in the front row of a rock show. Songs including Counting Down the Days and I Hope the Good Things Never Die are more fully realized and richer than Northcote's previous efforts, replete with grooving soul drums, horns, bouncy bass-lines, atmospheric guitar and sing-along group vocals. These songs signal that there is no need to sit passively by to experience the fast-paced, exuberant music of Northcote.
The hope and positivity of the material is apparent in the song Find Our Own Way, which challenges: "…whatever you got, you have to let it fly. Whatever you got you, have to give it one try" This song reflects the anxiety of coming of age in a media-saturated culture, where one can be so connected and yet be left feeling inexplicably lonely and at times with little direction or meaning.
This album sees Goud joined by Blake Enemark (We are the City, Forestry) on Guitar, Marek Tyler (Kathryn Calder, Dan Mangan) on Drums, Olivier Clement (Aidan Knight) on Horn, and Calgary artist Francis Gerrard on vocals throughout the album. Victoria-based musician Kathryn Calder, known both as a solo artist and as a member of The New Pornographers, appears on lead vocals on the late-night kitchen party track Only One Who Knows My Name, which closes the album.
In NORTHCOTE, Goud turns a new page with a strong, self-titled record penned primarily in the passenger seat of a Dodge Van parked along a seaside road in Victoria, B.C. Many pensive nights spent walking home from writing sessions and gigs throughout sleepy Victoria streets have helped shape a newfound confidence and connection to life as a musician for Goud, and you can hear this transformation in his voice.
In My Dreams is a stunningly accomplished and exciting follow-up to Mo Kenney's 2012 much-decorated and universally-acclaimed self-titled debut. Released on New Scotland Records/Pheromone Recordings on September 30, 2014, In My Dreams showcases an artist who has grown in every facet of her craft - as a singer, songwriter, guitarist and performer.
The album reunites Mo with her key creative collaborator and musical mentor, Joel Plaskett. The East Coast rock icon produced, played on, and co-wrote some of the material on her first record, and the two were clearly on the same page in terms of a sonic mandate for In My Dreams. "I knew it would be more of a production in terms of using a band," says Mo. "I'm playing a lot more with a band live now, so I wasn't afraid to go in that direction and make it less acoustic-based."
Even though there's a full band sound to some of the material on In My Dreams, most of the instrumentation came from Kenney and Plaskett themselves, Mo explains. "Joel did all the drums and bass and he played some of the organ. I did all the electric guitars [Kenney's ability to shred sets her apart from folkier peers] and I played some Wurlitzer and Rhodes."
The Mo Kenney album was recorded in Plaskett's previous more basic space, and Mo loved working in his new facility, New Scotland Yard, in Dartmouth, NS. "He has a super hi-fidelity Neve board now, so the difference in the sound quality in the studio was really noticeable," she says. "It has plenty of analog equipment, and I love the sound of tape."
This recording method and the prominent use of vintage keyboards has paid real dividends in the warm and rich sound of In My Dreams, one that remains built around Kenney's emotionally eloquent voice. Listen to "Untouchable" (featuring a powerhouse vocal performance Neko Case or Adele would be happy to claim) and "Mountains to the Mess" and you won't dare to disagree. The rich harmonies on the record are all Mo's own, and they add a real resonance to such other tunes as "Field Song" and "Pretty Things."
An early version of "I Faked It" was written by Kenney, Gordie Sampson and Willie Stratton at Sampson's renowned songwriting retreat, The Gordie Sampson Songcamp, and a revised version (featuring input from Plaskett) is the sizzling first cut on In My Dreams. Three other Plaskett-Kenney co-writes ("Untouchable," "Take Me Outside," and "In My Dreams") nestle neatly alongside five solo Kenney compositions and one cover, and the first single, "Telephones." That latter song was originally written and recorded by East Coast rockers Mardeen for their 2008 album Read Less Minds. "I fell in love with it immediately," Mo says. "I loved the melody and the catchy chorus."
In My Dreams takes the listener on a memorable emotional rollercoaster ride. The journey ends on an up note with "Dancing": "you're the sweetest dream cos' I don't have to sleep." Sweet dreams are indeed made of this enchanting record.