The Big "Ta Da!"
I'm sitting in the back of a car careening down Interstate 5 en route to Eugene Oregon, with Julia and James in the front listening to podcasts. I'm so grateful James loves driving so I can catch up on things, like writing to tell you.... IT'S HERE!!!
The official release of "Back to Shore" is June 21 but you can order the CD or the digital album at Borealis Records right now!
The main CD release concert will take place at the Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver on Tues. June 18 – which is a committed and passionate community very supportive of the arts. The Centennial was keen to work with me to host the show which made it all so much easier. The availability of the musicians dictated the concert had to be on a Tuesday (June 18th), which according to an article Nancy White sent me years ago, is analyzed as the WORST night for drawing an audience. But hey, I’m a rebel and love a challenge so to hell with the statistics.
These shows deserved the full meal deal of the wonderful players who played all on the recording. You can find all the info on the Tour page.
SO MANY NUMBERS...
This album marks forty-five years as a recording artist. Nine solo albums contribute to the twenty-five I have recorded along with other collaborations – from the Pied Pumkin and the Hometown Band through UHF (Ulrich Henderson Forbes), BTU (Bentall Taylor Ulrich) and the bluegrass band with Barney Bentall – The High Bar Gang.
It is my third with the iconic Canadian record label Borealis Records. A girl couldn’t ask for a more personable, supportive label.
It’s also my third collaboration with my daughter Julia Graff as engineer co-producer. Julia and her partner James Perrella (who met when both were in the Masters Program in Music in Sound Recording at McGill) make a formidable team, and I can’t say enough, even omitting the maternal pride component, about how creative, skilled, inspired, and efficient they are as a production team. If they had a Pro-tools version of the Rubiks cube races, Julia would be that person you’d say WHAT??? How did she do that so FAST!? A good fit with my chronically impatient nature.
Of course, as they say, it all starts with the song, and it was a long road of writing that lead to this album. I started a year or so after the release of the last album and made regular trips to my favourite writing spot on Vancouver Island for close to 3 years. Yes, that’s a long time – but I recorded both BTU's 'TIghtrope Walk' and High Bar Gang's 'Someday the Heart..." in that time, and there was a lot of touring as well. I’m not someone who writes on the road. I tend to need a chunk of time with no distractions to “get in the zone”. That’s the way it’s always been for me, so – who am I to question? For every song on this album, I wrote another couple of pieces ranging from promising snippets to “almost there”’s that are in my back pocket for the next album. The twelve we chose are an eclectic mix of styles and subjects – from the rocky Rocky Shores – a cautionary tale of infidelity with a nod to myth of the Sirens; to celebrating my adopted country in Canada; to questioning our logic as a species in Mars; to the joy and heartbreak of aging in These Lines and The Sweater; to the mystery of creativity in Busy; to life, death and love in That’s What I Thought Too; Love is Everything, and Goodnight. And of course, given I was a musician long before I was a songwriter, there has to be an instrumental in there, hung on a lively little piece called Ferry Tale Jig by Sarah Frank of the Bombadils.
I’d like to think I manage to avoid a common pitfall of an artist who doesn’t realize that their songs sound a bit same-y by the time you get half way through their album. (It’s easy as a writer to have pet chord progressions and melodies and not even realize they’re showing up in song after song.) Of course, that’s what producers are for. At the same time the album has that signature Shari sound – however that might be defined (and I’m not even going to try).
This is the first album since recording “Talk Around Town” in LA in 1982 that I recorded the bed tracks in the studio with a full band – which guarantees a groove and a vibe that’s impossible to create any other way. Drummer Geoff Hicks, bassist Rob Becker are Vancouver’s best and busiest rhythm section, and are always my first call when I get to have a full band. Keyboard player Cindy Fairbank is a treasure found right here on my little island, and has been a wonderful asset to my live shows. The surprise addition, thanks to the encouragement of the rhythm section, on electric guitar (as well as dobro, and pedal steel) was Scott Smith. I’ll confess, the 80’s and 90’s kind of put me off electric guitar to the point where I haven’t even included any on my last few albums or live – but Scott….Scott changed all that by bringing a whole dimension of simple tasty arrangement elements, and some of the coolest dobro playing I’ve ever heard.
We went into Monarch Studios in Vancouver in May of 2018 and the beds were born over 4 days. Then over the next weeks and months we recorded overdubs in various places with some of my favourite players – Dave Barber on banjo, Michael Creber on piano and B3, John Reischmann on mandolin, Peggy Lee on cello, my dear friend Cara Luft on Clawhammer banjo, and my two favourite harmony singers, Julia Graff and Kirby Barber. For the chorus on Love is Everything I even brought my pals Tom Taylor, Sheryl MacKay (CBC’s NXNW), my former piano player Ted Littlemore, old friend Peter Clarke, Cara and Julia ….and to top it off, added the Marcus Marcus Mosely Ensemble to the choir.
I feel so much affection for every one of the fine humans who contributed to the creation of this work – but of course most notably, Julia and James who not only chiseled a beautiful gem out of a jagged rock, but managed to temper my incessant impatience in order to get the job done right.
Yes, I am tenaciously hanging on to my music being delivered as a “thing” with a cover and booklet and lyrics and photos. I don’t care what they say – I know my audience likes to take it home with them and I am a fan of the “package” and the visual aspect of the creation. For “Back To Shore” I used the work of one of my favourite artists - the paintings of singer songwriter David Graff (and his most precious gift, exceptional father to daughter Julia). I’ve always been a fan of both his music and his art so it was a natural fit. And graphic artist Roberta Landreth endured months of my input and requests for changes.
If you’re on my mailing list you’ve heard me wax on about my passion for music and how much we need it, how exhilarating it is to play it, and my perennial awe in how it makes us feel. So to have another batch of tunes out in the world makes me very happy. Ironically, after 45 years I feel like I’m still getting just started and there’s so much music to write, sing, play, and share. I plan on getting good long life to do it!