This fine Canadian artist has been producing music of real quality for many years now but has remained steadfastly below the radar, outside of his native land. He has a body of work that includes an impressive seven solo releases, plus collaboration with Ireland’s Andy White and some additional recordings as part of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. Apart from a greatest hits package, released in 2009, this is the first set of songs that has seen the light of day in five years.
The time has brought its changes to the artist, who has moved home, remarried, become a father and continued to tour in service to the song. Stephen Fearing sings that the measure of a man is not his wealth and this strikes me as very true for this troubadour who consistently produced sublime songs from 1991 through 2006. He sings with a warm and wise voice that has seen the world and is reporting back from the front. The humanity in his words is a real pleasure to absorb and the dedication on ‘Cold Dawn’ to the crew and passengers of a Cougar Helicopter that crashed in 2009 off the coast of Newfoundland is perfectly apt for the gentle tribute that follows in the lullaby and soft strum of the song.
This release is co- produced by Stephen Fearing and John Whynot. (Bruce Coburn, Blue Rodeo, Lucinda Williams) and the arrangements are just full of space and a tender touch that highlights a supreme talent in the playing. ‘Wheel of Love’ sings of the need to continue on the road towards our journey’s end and the promise of a contented ending to it all. The ‘Half-light of Childhood’ speaks of days past and the way that time seemed to take forever. ‘These Golden Days’ starts with a groove just out of a Joni Mitchell songbook and speaks of time woven as a silver thread, through these golden days.
The bonus track ‘Early Morning Rain’ brings the collection to a satisfying conclusion as we reflect on the traveller who is a long way from home and missing family. In a way, this is the fate of the singer-songwriter, ever searching for the next thing over the hill and the expectation of a new experience. A beautiful loneliness, captured with subtlety, in these eleven songs. Everybody should own at least some of the music of Stephen Fearing and this recording is a damn fine place to start. An excellent and welcome return from this, as yet unrecognised, superstar of song.