I have been enthralled with Ian Foster on being introduced to his music and writings ever since I moved to Canada, there are so many facets to this gifted singer / songwriter. A native of St John's, Newfoundland and considered one of the islands foremost storytelling troubadours in the true sense. He is very much aware of the traditions in the folk, roots idiom but always has a very modern approach that has been described as Canadiana by some. This release has been much anticipated as it has been three years since he released the extremely well received 'The Great Wave'.
'Sleeper Years' has a grander feel to it than his previous works, more of a cinematic journey. I mentioned that he has many facets, he is a touring solo artist, a music producer, film director, writer, composer and all these elements seem to have combined on this release. 'Sleeper Years' is what you would expect, it is Ian Foster at his best, showcasing all of his top quality attributes.
There are so many stories in each song , having grown up surrounded in a province and environment that is full of that rich tradition, it is no surprise that Ian has taken the art to it's fullest. As an example of the feel on the album I'm starting with the last track 'Our Love Was' because it's a six minute soundscape with a large instrumental part that sums up the cinematic feel, there is a different approach to the production, with vocals sitting back in the mix, there are only four lines to the lyric that were actually borrowed from the first track 'Feels Like It Wants To Rain' , the piece started from a piano riff and developed almost as a movie ending complimenting the first track and acting almost as a bookend to the album, in the middle we have sublime storytelling through song.
'Stinging Nettle' is about his family history. The year 1916, the first day of the battle of Beaumont Hamel during the first world war, a year stamped forever in the minds of any Newfoundlander, out of many men to go over the top on July 1st of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment only 67 answered the role call the next day, touching the lives of almost every household in the province, Ian's grandfather was in that battle and after his parents discovered some long forgotten correspondence a story began to unfold which Ian so eloquently retells in true folk song tradition.
'You Left A Song' is Ian's tribute to Ron Hynes, the story goes that within an half hour of the news of Ron's passing all the power went out in downtown St John's for a good few hours, Ian sat in the dark at home and picked up his acoustic guitar thinking about Ron and the song was born, it was finished that night and made it's way onto this album. A great song and a fabulous tribute to one of Newfoundlands finest ever songwriters.
Each track tells it's own story which are all masterfully arranged, working with long time friend Scott Hammond - who worked on ' The Great Wave - the chemistry they have is evident in the recording.
The album title is an interesting one, in these politically tumultuous times, does it reference issues in this world that we all may need to pay more attention to ? Or is it referencing particular times in ones past life that may have shaped us or lead us to who we are?
It's been a three year period since the last record but it has been well worth waiting for, I have come to know Ian as a performer as well as an acquaintance and have become very aware of the attention to detail both in production, telling the story and performing the songs with passion, he delivers once again on 'Sleeper Years' with richer texture than ever before, a must have recording for his fans and a fine introduction to the brilliance of Ian Foster for those that are not familiar with his genius.
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