Connecting with musicians through other artists, producers, and publicists, always puts a smile on my face, and has proven time and time again to be a great way to discover some fabulous new music. Just recently, we were introduced to the music of Calgary, AB songwriter Carter Felker, a name unfamiliar to us, but one that we were in awe of when connecting the dots between him and a handful of artist friends we have featured here over time at GDW.
Breaking onto the Alberta music scene back in 2016 with his “Everyday Life” debut album, it would be Carter’s songwriting prowess that earned him the attention of some of his established peers. Indeed, the title track from his own debut would eventually be recorded by Del Barber, who added it to his 2019 JUNO-nominated “Easy Keeper” album. Not a bad connection, right there – Barber is a long-time favorite here at GDW, so this had me nodding my head in appreciation. Proceeding to skim through some of Carter’s social media also highlighted the upcoming sharing of a stage with Winnipeg’s Sean Burns & Lost Country this weekend – Sean, of course, an artist whose traditional country and western music has been covered here too. Yes, being name-dropped in the company of Del Barber and Sean Burns will certainly drop you onto my listening radar.
Digging a little deeper into his songwriting past, I soon learned of a connection not made ‘the first time around’ – that Carter had composed a tune titled “Good Woman,” which was recorded by alt-country artist Shaela Miller for her stunning 2021 “Big Hair, Small City” album. You remember that one, right? We shared an in-depth album feature on the day it was released, where I not only declared “Good Woman” to be a phenomenal closing track on that album, but doubled-down and proclaimed this to be a solid choice for a live-show encore moment too. Go ahead and re-familiarize yourself with Carter’s lyrical creativity here: “So take back your things / You ain’t worth a good god damn / You’re just a boy / And I need me a man / I hope you find someone / And never break her heart / And if you ain’t looking now / Well, it’s time you start.”
With my curiosity to learn more piqued, this introduction to Carter Felker was packaged with his latest single release and music video for “The Bad Guy,” released just last month. Per his official bio, Carter’s songwriting is the embodiment of simplicity – “Like the hammer and the nail, the tongue and groove or the wheel and its roll – the stringent and punchy use of words alongside outstanding fingerpicking are as effective as they are memorable.” Based on the song title alone, one can easily conjure up numerous interpretations of the character at its core, yet ultimately proves to be one of heartache and a relationship turned sour. “It’s a story of being a self-centered jerk inside the parameters of a lovers quarrel,” Carter explains. “The immediate need to pass blame and deflect all wrong doing from oneself when faced with the brutal truth that you’re the perpetrator of someone you loves’ pain, even though you’re well aware of the fact.”
Accompanying the single is a fun video, captured by Guillaume Carlier at Kino Sum Productions in Calgary. “I wanted to make reference to Carter’s sound, which is similar to Harry Nilsson, hence the visual cue of the bathrobe,” Carlier offers, “To make the video simple, yet still complicated, we decided to shoot it as a one take, going down the elevator to symbolize Carter’s descent into his thoughts and finally admitting he has done wrong. It’s not a coincidence that Amy Nelson, Carter’s longtime partner, is the one managing the elevator.” One visual mystery that occurs during the time spent in the elevator is that of the paint being applied to Carter’s face. “The main image of course is the clown makeup. I’ve become obsessed with rodeo clowns, and their strange calling,” Guillaume explains. “Their ambitions are more mysterious to me, unlike the bull riders who compete for a purse. Why does the rodeo clown do what he does? I thought that the lyrics reflected that same strange quality.”
Photo Credit: Artist Website