Between Hurricanes.

“All the fast roads and the back roads, stretched between the hurricanes”

 

digipak6p-111-TRI wrote this line after stumbling upon the title for this recording. After some consideration, “Between Hurricanes” seemed like such a beautiful image for this album and  a perfect title to boot.. In the past, choosing an album title is one of the very last things I do before releasing the final master, however this record has been different in so many ways and I had the title long before the final song was finished… but let me step back a bit and explain.

 

In 2006, I released Yellowjacket and though I didn’t know it at the time, that record marked the end of many things and as is often the case, the beginning of so many more. My marriage of 14 years ended shortly after the record came out. Hard on the heels of this devastation, True North – my home on record for over a decade – changed hands. I was still under contract to TN, but the writing was on the wall and it quickly became apparent that it was time for me to move on, so I released The Man Who Married Music – The Best of Stephen Fearing to mark the end of a very important era. Around about the same time, my dear friend and manager, Bernie Finkelstein, started to make noises about cutting back on his workload. Bernie and I had been together through thick and thin for over 16 years, but I realized that it was time for me to step out from under his wing and since he no was no longer at the helm of True North, I knew it was time to move on and become fully independent. Blackie and The Rodeo Kings had made a similar move the year before and in hindsight, 2006 was when one could no-longer ignore the smell of shit that was hitting the record business fan. Being under contract to a label such as True North was suddenly unappealing at best and even more, a liability for an artist such as myself. Clearly it was time to let go of the old ties and step out into the brave new world of Facebook, Twitter, self-promotion and true independence.

Cloud B&WIn 2008, I packed my bags, sold my house in Guelph, Ontario and moved to Halifax to start a new marriage and a new chapter of my life. At the time, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings were closing in on our latest recording –  Kings and Queens – an ambitious and game-changing record for the band, which featured duets with 14 iconic female singers. At roughly the same time, and to further complicate things, I recorded and released Fearing & White with my old and dear friend Andy White – a songwriter and troubadour extraordinaire originally from Belfast N. Ireland, and now living in Australia. So as you can see, between the move to Halifax, settling into a new home and a new marriage (and becoming a father!), two new recordings with two different bands and releasing a solo Best Of… well let’s just say I was a very busy man.

One of the things I learned after moving to Halifax, is that every year,  the East Coast is beset by tropical storms and hurricanes in the late summer/fall. They come roaring up the Eastern Seaboard bearing names like Juan and Sandy, wreaking complete devastation at worst and playing hell with house-painting schedules at best.Point Pleasant Park #1

In the summer of 2012, six years (!) after my last full album of new material, I realized that I was long overdue and determined to write and release a new solo recording, to remind myself that before B&RK and F&W, I was, and remain at heart, a solo-singer/songwriter. So as the August festivals wound down into the dog days of summer, and while most musicians went to friend’s cottages to rest and recover by the lake or simply drink beer on their own back stoop, I gathered a small collection of material and embarked on an ambitious schedule of writing a new album AND painting the exterior of our magnificent house (a musician’s got to do… ). Some days, I would literally jump down off the scaffolding, paintbrush in hand, as a lyric idea came in loud and clear, other times I’d be forced indoors by yet another tropical storm / hurricane, to hunker down as the wind and rain howled around my writing room – scratching lyrics into my black book and picking out chords on my guitar by candlelight when the power went out. During one of these forced retreats from the endless sanding and painting, I wrote a quick e-mail to my pal Tom Allen, complaining about all the things I was trying to get done and despairing that I would get enough material written “between the hurricanes”. He responded that this was surely my album title. Thanks Tom!

Corn Stubble #1

The idea for this record came with the realization that I wanted to present these songs as voice and acoustic guitar with ambient, atmospheric keyboards around them. Sparse, but not Spartan, acoustic, but not too dry… some bass and drums for sure, but not a “band” record. After all, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings generally scratches that itch for me nowadays and Fearing & White tends towards the pop-acoustic side of the tracks, so that frees me up to experiment a little and concentrate on voice, acoustic guitar and songwriting. For many years I have worked with my good and multi-talented friend John Whynot, mostly as a recording engineer and occasionally (with B&RK) as a keyboard player. This time, I thought it would be fun for both of us, to bring him in at the start, as co-producer, engineer and keyboard player, thereby using his many talents all at once. With this plan in mind, John and I flew into Toronto for nine days of recording at Woodshed Recording – Blue Rodeo’s cozy, and well equipped studio up near the Danforth. We moved in and spent nine, very relaxed days, recording, experimenting, talking and laughing our asses off as the record took shape. Towards the end of the sessions, Hurricane Sandy turned into a “Super Storm” and devastated the US Eastern Seaboard. Somehow, even amidst the extreme havoc and loss of life and despite the fact that both John and I had friends and family that were greatly affected by this freak of a storm, even so, this seemed to me to be a good omen. I left the studio satisfied that we had accomplished what we set out to do and hit the road with B&RK to tour across Canada with The Kings and Queens Circus, and John went back to LA with the bed tracks to mix the album.

So here it is – Between Hurricanes. A musical glimpse into the eye of the storms of passion, marriage and divorce, the slings and arrows of life, the troubadour’s road and a half-century of touring around the sun – a storm in a teacup?High Wires-10

 

I’ve never really wanted to do anything other than this – writing and recording, driving, flying, travelling and unraveling these songs. Above all, the most satisfying thing is to play and sing live, for you. Here’s another chapter, another clatter of rain against your window. Enjoy, and as always, thanks for listening.

 

Stephen Fearing 2012

© Stephen Fearing 2012 | Website by Mat Dunlap