Roots and Rain – 2010
ROOTS AND RAIN is the fourth and strongest album to date from Toronto singer-songwriter Howard Gladstone. As with his earlier three, the musical territory is wide. Acoustic folk is just the starting point, the album branching off with elements of jazz, ballads, pop, rock, world – the album pleases with the expected acoustic finger-picked guitar, drums, and bass, then surprises with unexpected touches like dreamy sax, sitar, violin, mandolin & accordion.
Gladstone is an insightful and prolific writer who delivers revealing songs of passion, humour and, as Virginia McIsaac from Rambles.net wrote, topical songs with “…lyrics (that) bite into the social conscience of humanity and touch us right in the heart…”
Rooted firmly on the ground, Gladstone’s writing at one level is about survival and growth, in a world where humankind is often “at the mercy of the wind”. The mellow feel of many of the songs can lull you into a blissful paradise only to awaken to the harsh reality of justice gone awry as in “Tammy (The Wheels of Justice)”, which recounts the tragic, wrongful conviction of Tammy Marquardt, an innocent mother charged with the murder of her son.
As we follow Gladstone’s journey, there are many references to humankind being helplessly tossed about by the elements, but he also expresses the hope, healing and positive view of the future – as evidenced; in the opening track “Mercy of the Wind”, with the line “if you help us help ourselves, that’s a mercy that lasts”
Roots and Rain was co-produced by Gladstone and Juno award-winning producer Tony Quarrington, who also adds his guitar and mandolin magic to the album. Mastered by George Graves (U2, Loreena McKennitt, Peter Gabriel), it was recorded at the Gladstone Home Studio and with expert technical and production support from John Switzer and Kevin Zarnet, each song carries with it a distinct flavour. Some take you to exotic places, as in the sweet strains of “Khajaraho” (where violin and sitar set the mood) and “Kauai Nights”. Some depict love (even willingly-blind love) and all its complications as in “Sweet Lies” and “Let Go of the Rain” while others bring out a little light humour and quirky fun, such as the accordion-rich “Roamin’Hands”.
The beautiful and touching “Loon on the Lake” is definitely one of those musical jewels, the kind about which Greg Quill of the Toronto Star commented “…If you heard this music in a crowded room, you’d suspect it was a lost gem from another time.” Reflecting on the Canadian landscape, Gladstone echoes the elemental and survival theme again in the lyrics “Summer’s short, life’s not long, to stay alive in this land, you have to find your song, like a loon on the lake.” Virginia McIsaac said it best: “When he delivers lyrics, it’s as if you are hearing him sculpt a song. Just like ice carvers at a winter festival, Gladstone shapes ordinary words into beautiful visions…songs of strength and courage.”
1. Mercy Of The Wind
2. Sweet Lies
4. Fall So Deep
5. Lost In Your Love
6. Let Go Of The Rain
7. Not Waitin’ On The Train
8. It’s Gospel To You
9. Tammy (The Wheels of Justice)
10. Loon On The Lake
11. Roamin’ Hands
12. Kauai Nights
Howard Gladstone – vocals, acoustic guitar
Tony Quarrington – acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, background vocal
Kevin Zarnett – bass, background vocal
Robin Pirson – drums
Shelley Coopersmith – violin
Denis Keldie – accordion
Chris Robinson- sax, clarinet
Marci Gladstone Jameson – background vocal
Bonnie Gladstone – background vocal on “Loon on the Lake”
All songs written by Howard Gladstone © Socan 2009
Produced by Tony Quarrington and Howard Gladstone
Technical assistance and mixed by John Switzer
Engineered by Kevin Zarnett
Mastered by George Graves, Lacquer Channel
CDs and downloads available from www.cdbaby.com, amazon, and other sites.