Roots & Rain 2010
ROOTS AND RAIN (2010) is the fourth album 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(left) – acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, background vocal
Kevin Zarnett (2nd from left) – bass, background vocal
Robin Pirson (right) – 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.
Candles on the River 2005
Gladstone’s concern for social issues is deeply etched in his songs, from native rights issues (“Aboriginal Burial Ground”), to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (“Damaged Angel”) to the closing of Maritime fisheries (“Fishin’ by the Book”) to globalization and corporate indifference (“Goin’ Offshore”). “ Down to the Delta” surveys the history of the blues and the modernization & commercialization of the beloved South- and wonders where that music is going.
Other songs explore more personal territory. “Prisoner of New Orleans” and “Tattoo on My Heart” are stories of lost love and recovery. “Photograph” is a long narrative concerning youth, lost love, war, colonial mythology, memory and history. Not as confusing as it appears. T
The title track “Candles on the River” takes its inspiration and rhythm from a sunrise Gladstone observed in India and love of Indian music .
The albums’ 11 tracks feature unadorned production and solid ensemble performances. Gladstone provides vocals and acoustic guitar. Tony Quarrington, co-produced the album, and contributes guitar and mandolin. Denis Keldie plays Hammond B3 organ, piano, and accordion. The rhythm section of Russ Boswell on acoustic stand-up bass and Al Cross on drums adds a tasteful no-nonsense bottom end. Guests include Anne Lindsay on violin, the late Eddie Baltimore on slide-guitar, Clela Errington and Alan Soberman on backup vocals, and Bruce Longman. Many of the tracks were recorded in a single take, with minimal overdubs.
Samples of all songs here – from CD Baby site
Tattoo On My Heart Listen
Prisoner of New Orleans Listen
Down To the Delta Listen
Too Many Voices Gone Silent
Aboriginal Burial Ground
Damaged Angel Listen
Fishin’ By The Book Listen
Candles on the River Listen
Howard Gladstone – vocals, guitar
Tony Quarrington – co-producer, guitars, mandolin, banjo, backing vocal
Denis Keldie – Hammond B3 organ, piano, mandolin, accordion, effects, odds & ends
Russ Boswell – stand up acoustic and electric bass
Al Cross- drums
Anne Lindsay – violin
Eddie Baltimore – slide guitar
Clela Errington, Alan Soberman – backing vocals
Bruce Longman – electric bass, vocals on “Too Many Voices Gone Silent”
The Breath in the Wind 2007
The Breath In The Wind, Howard Gladstone’s third CD of original songs is a live -in-studio album with singer-songwriter Howard Gladstone on acoustic guitar and vocal, and just two accompanists – long-time collaborator and brilliant guitarist Tony Quarrington, and bass accompanist Kevin Zarnett.
A self-described romantic-realist, Howard Gladstone’s songs cover a lot of musical territory, styles, and themes. The album ranges from ballads to blues to folk with hints of country, pop and old-time jazz. Gladstone gets around, and the songs reference locations as diverse as Paris’ Left Bank, New Orleans, Jerusalem, Georgia (USA, not USSR) , Delhi (Ontario), and of course, the Good Old USA.
The opening song “Follow Your Heart” is an upbeat and optimistic song in a minor key and sets the tone. Songs range from love ballads (I Want to Be Closer) to a mini-tragic tale of love gone wrong (Twelve Candles); to family dynamics (Big House Blues, Six Years On The Road), to reflections on human nature and the illusion of security and permanence (Tear Down These Walls in God’s Garden). Other songs are just plain fun (Six Weeks In A Plaster Cast); South Of the Border (Good Old USA) is a satirical look at the USA from a Canadian perspective. The title track “The Breath In The Wind” is written in memory of the loss of a mother.
- Follow Your Heart – A hopeful song in a minor key; following your dreams usually entails risk – since what’s good comes at a price. Listen
- Twelve Candles – A tragic waltz where lovers never connect; this song is based (loosely) on the facts surrounding a Paris hotel fire. Listen
- Tear Down These Walls in God’s Garden – A plea for reconciliation in spite of understanding the dark side of human nature; the illusion of security. Listen
- I Want To Be Closer – A lyrical and intimate love ballad.Listen
- King of Bad Choices – A nod to the music of the 1920s; this guy is a throw-back, the type of man who needs an attitude adjustment in 21st century society.Listen
- Leon’s Last Song – Humour and irony with a touch of defiance; in the face of death, down-and-out, Leon keeps on proudly leading the life he chose.
- Drinking More Than I Should – The bottle’s half full, or maybe half empty; a bluesy/boozy statement that love is a powerful and fiery thing; and well worth it.
- Big House Blues – When a family is disintegrating everybody suffers; it’s hard to escape from your roots.
- Six Years On The Road – A death in the family brings the possibility of reconciliation, as a wayward son returns home.
- South of the Border (Good Old USA) – A satirical look at our American neighbours and our smug Canadian selves. I hope they recognize it’s a joke the next time I cross the border!
- Six Weeks In A Plaster Cast – When you’re served lemons, the best plan is to make lemonade. Yes, I did break my arm, and wrote this song during that period.
- When Like The Rain – A lyrical ballad; a restful lullaby.
- The Breath In The Wind – This song was written immediately after the death of my mother. The breath in the wind is the breath in the song, and I can’t explain it better than that.Listen
- Howard Gladstone, guitar, vocal
- Tony Quarrington, guitars (acoustic,electric, classical), mandolin, percussion, background vocal
- Kevin Zarnett, bass, harmonica, background vocal
Sunflowers Light the Room 2002
A collection of 13 songs and 15 tracks, Sunflowers Light The Room exists in a a variety of musical styles, including folk, rock, blues, country, and a couple of jazz-tinged ballads. Howard Gladstone’s music has been described as “acoustic folk rock with a country twist.” Toronto Star called this a “fascinating debut.”
The lyrical style is as diverse as the music. One minute ethereal, the next minute hard-hitting, the songs strive to create an emotional space that invites the listener to enter.
A music lover as well as a song writer, Howard has long listened and absorbed myriad influences. Howard ’s music owes its roots to diverse musical and literary influences, ranging from the poet Rumi to Dylan, to modern singer/songwriters, via way of folk, blues, the murder ballad tradition, with helpings of rock, pop, Indian music, jazz and a smattering of the classics.
Sunflowers features full studio production, with many excellent musicians including : Tony Quarrington, Eddie Baltimore, Denis Keldie, Anne Lindsay, David Woodhead, Victor Bateman, Suzie Vinnick, Lori Cullen, Gary Orme, Brian and Bonnie Gladstone, plus jazz stalwarts – Kirk MacDonald, Barry Romberg, Bob George to add a jazz flavour to several tunes.
- Coming Home To You
- Sunflowers Light The Room
- Healing Hands
- Guilty of Love
- I Am Your Child
- Down To Earth
- Silver Handled Dagger
- When Lightning Strikes
- Fire and Firefly
- Grand Canal
- Too Soon, It’s September
- Welcome To The Lake
- Down to Earth (acoustic)
Sunflowers and Candles cover paintings by Julie Gladstone.
Breath In the Wind album design by Josh Cappel