— Stephen Fearing (@StephenFearing) January 14, 2017
While CBC Music may have overlooked Stephen Fearing’s latest release, “Every Soul’s a Sailor,” we certainly have not! Released on 13 January, Fearing’s new album is by turns stirring and scolding. I was prepared to love it after only two tracks, but “Blowhard Nation” snagged my attention immediately. As someone who lives where “the whole thing wobbles / And the wheels come off” and where we’re awaiting the “weird looking creature / With a rug and a jowly frown” with considerable trepidation, the song resonates deeply with me.
Stephen Fearing has enjoyed a lengthy career, both as a solo artist and as a member of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and of Fearing & White. He possesses a unique ability to deliver quiet ballads and angry rockers in an equally convincing style. Two lovely ballads, “Red Lights in the Rain” and “Gone but Not Forgotten,” feature backing vocals by Rose Cousins (whose next project comes out next month). Both songs evoke the pain of loves lost, of parting with regrets.
As Fearing says himself of the album on his website, it details his growing perception of life as a journey where the process ultimately matters more then the result. I’ve been wrestling with some of those thoughts in my own life of late, and “Love the Deal” in particular really hits close to home: “So what if you fail / What if you succeed / You’ve got no control / You’ve got no guarantees / It’s a pilgrimage to walk this world / Creatively.”
I’ve often found over the years that music with a message I particularly need to hear, at a specific time, generally finds its way to me. This album is one such arrival in my life. (I may or may not have shed a tear during “Carousel.”) Deeply introspective but also with some definite toe-tapping moments, this is an enjoyable project by a terrific (and very likely underappreciated) artist. Hopefully our travels to Canada will intersect with one of Fearing’s tours, so we can hear this great music live.