Birthdays generally don’t mean much to Curtis Phagoo, but the Red Deer singer/songwriter admits that turning 40 did make him reflect.
A tangible result of his recent ruminations on the past is a new eight-song recording, nostalgically named When We Were Young. It will be released this fall, though two new singles from it are already available through YouTube, Apple Music, iTunes and other streaming services.
The not-yet-released title track is a rumination on childhood — more specifically the antics that Phagoo got up to with his twin brother when they were children and teens.
Phagoo says his sibling passed away unexpectedly about six years ago — a tragedy that left an indelible impression on him. “It gave me more of a push to concentrate on what I was doing. I realized it could be over anytime,” explains Phagoo.
Although he works in his family jewelry design business by day, Phagoo’s spare time, besides helping home school his two young kids, has been devoted to music — both listening to other people’s music at an immersive level, and focusing on his own songwriting
Red Deer-area residents can hear the latest results of Phagoo’s creativity at a singer/songwriter circle that he will be performing at Cheers Pub on Thursday, July 7, along with singer/musicians Landon Bennett and Ryan Carnduff.
Among the tunes Phagoo will play are his latest singles, If I Could, I Would and Makin’ Hay.
The latter was inspired by a rainy period last fall when the farmers’ fields around his rural acreage sat unharvested because the combines would have become mired in muck. “It was pouring rain for days and the tractors were all parked … I kept seeing this, and wrote the song on the drive to our cabin” near Buffalo Lake, Phagoo recalls.
The other single is a love song that isn’t a love song. It’s about someone telling their partner that their feelings don’t run as deep as maybe they should. “It’s quite a poetic song,” says Phagoo, about how the head can’t rule the heart.
These and other lyrical tunes on his new recording were produced by Heath West at his Melodious Designs Studio in The Space in Red Deer. Phagoo opted to go the studio route, even though he has home recording equipment, because he felt the need to “let go” of the material, and allow an unbiased expert “make it the best it could be.”
The local performer has lately become fully drawn into the music of other artists — more specifically, roots/bluegrass musicians John Moreland from Oklahoma and Tyler Childers of Kentucky. Their tunes are generally not happy ones — “it’s real-life stuff” that resonates with Phagoo, who doesn’t care if this music washes over his own material, to some extent.
“I am not afraid to be inspired by it, I’ll end up doing my own thing anyway,” says Phagoo, who believes nothing is completely original but is instead a synthesis of what artists see, hear and experience.
It’s been more than a decade since Phagoo last put out a recording — he made a CD in 2011 — and he’s become fascinated by changes in the new music streaming process. It involves online distributors making his songs available to bloggers and playlist websites all over the world, not just in his own central Alberta backyard.
“I’m really interested in making these relationships,” he says.
For more information abour the Cheers show on July 7, please contact the venue.