To Central Alberta folk singer Mike Edel, landscape is a state of mind as much as a physical presence.
Topography inspired his debut album, The Last of Our Mountains, which is coming out on Tuesday. The CD doesn’t just deal with his Prairie beginnings on his parents’ grain farm in Linden, or his urban experience studying music at Grant MacEwan College, or his 2009 move to Victoria, where he’s now establishing himself as part of the Vancouver Island music scene.
Edel, who performs on Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Velvet Olive in Red Deer, named the album after a line in the Earl Birney poem, David, about a mountain climber who has to make a life-or-death decision when his buddy loses his footing and falls.
The epic poem, with its scenic descriptions of the Rockies, reminds Edel of the many summers he spent with his family at Banff.
He noted Birney was also a child of the Prairies who lived in the mountains for a time before relocating to Vancouver. “I guess you resonate with the people and places where you’re from,” said the 25-year-old songwriter, who created a tune called The Country Where I’m From for the album.
The song is about living the rural life, which still appeals to Edel — at least in the philosophical sense. “The songs asks the question: What more can the heart of a man desire than living a quiet life in the country?” said the singer.
While Edel enjoys spending Christmases with his family in Linden, southwest of Three Hills, he admitted he’s just as happy residing in Victoria, a small seaside city that seems to be made up of small village-like neighbourhoods.
Victoria has a supportive music community and is a pretty laidback place to live, he added. “I just saw a bumper sticker that said: ‘Slow down, you’re not on the mainland.’ ”
The first video he recorded is for a song called Turn the Lights on Bright. It’s about the time Edel worked as a booking agent at the Edmonton International Airport on Christmas Eve. “I was arranging for other people to fly back to Denver or Tampa Bay for Christmas but I had to work.”
Edel said it’s these kinds of bittersweet experiences that often colour his songwriting.
“I’m usually a pretty happy person. But when it comes to being a singer/songwriter, I find that it’s a lot of beauty and pensive experiences that inspire my music.”
For more information, call The Velvet Olive at 403-340-8288.