A time for reflection
There’s nothing like hitting the half-century mark to make a guy stop and reflect.
Singer/songwriter Stephen Fearing turned 50 on Jan. 12 and his latest solo album Between Hurricanes shows it, with wistful tunes such as The Half Life of Childhood and Don’t You Wish Your Bread Was Dough? appearing to look back to assess the past.
The new album is definitely tied to reaching life’s theoretical mid-point, said Fearing, who performs on Thursday at the Elks Lodge in Red Deer.
In fact, he noted the acoustic folk release had the working title of Fifty until he happened to remark that the songs were written between various Atlantic storm systems hitting his Nova Scotia home.
Suddenly “between hurricanes” stuck him as a particularly appropriate metaphor, since Fearing saw himself standing somewhere between the rash turbulence of youth and the eventual decline of old age — “a time of peace and rest.”
While he’s better known for being one of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, the singer started out some 25 years ago as an independent artist who had journeyed from his Canadian birthplace to his Irish ancestral homeland and back again.
And with this first solo album of new material in six years — which was co-produced with his longtime collaborator, keyboardist/sound engineer John Whynot — Fearing wanted to get back to the fundamentals.
“As fulfilling as it is to tour with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, I wanted to go back to the start, where it’s just me and my guitar,” said the performer.
Fearing maintained he wasn’t concerned with tailoring his new songs for radio play at this point in his career. “I wanted to address the people that are helping pay my mortgage — Canada’s folk (music) community.”
Between Hurricanes includes beautiful, poetic imagery about the brevity of childhood (The Half Life of Childhood, co-written with Erin Costelo), and the bittersweet wish for a clean slate from someone who’s made mistakes (Don’t You Wish Your Bread Was Dough?, co-written with Chris Kirby).
Just in Time to Say Goodbye, also co-written with Costelo, is about making one of life’s accidental connections. A guy experiencing marital discord meets someone in the bar who he really likes, but he decides to leave it there.
“A lot of this album is about the decisions you make and repercussions from those decisions, and the journeys you take because of those choices,” said Fearing, who wrote The Fool from the perspective of an old man who spent his life chasing the wrong things.
At the end, the man realizes too late that everything that ever mattered he had from the start — but lost through his foolishness.
“He was chasing the idea of something better,” said the songwriter, who can relate to this concept.
Fearing was once chewed out by a friend who was sick of hearing him complain about his career. “He said, ‘Listen: You have a house, you have a car. That’s all you get. Enjoy what you have. . . . If you become the kind of guy who thinks the world owes you something . . . you are never going to be happy.’ ”
In fact, he has considerably more than that.
Fearing remarried several years ago and has a wife and stepdaughter. He is pleased with the feedback for Between Hurricanes, which is ranked No. 1 on the CKUA Radio chart.
Besides his large fan following for Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Fearing is also becoming known for his duets with Irish songwriter Andy White. And he expects to record new albums with both of those musical incarnations over the next year.
“I’m hoping I get another 30 years of this,” he said.
“When I think of Pete Seeger, and Keith Richards, I see no reason to stop. This is a beautiful thing to do . . . (maybe) someday I’ll get pulled off the stage with a hook when people say, ‘OK, that’s enough’ . . . But I don’t ever want to get tired of this.”
WHO: Singer/songwriter Stephen Fearing
WHEN: 8 p.m., Thursday, March 7
WHERE: Elks Lodge, 6315 Horn St., Red Deer
TICKETS: $25 from www.centralmusicfest.com (click on box office)