I do an open format radio show on Radio Regent online out of Regent Park in Toronto every Friday from 5 p.m. til 7,called CORBY's ORBIT playing everymusic, so far no Death Metal or light opera but who knows?http://www.radioregent.com/
Illustration by John Kricfalusi
Listening in All the High Places illustration by John Kricfalusi
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Ultimate Ulrich ~ Back To Shore Review in Prose and Poetry
i) There WILL be poetry. But first, for those of you who may be suspicious of rhyme schemes (or antsy with scansion), it is ultimately most important to know that Shari Ulrich has a new record out. A superlative follow-up to 2014’s Everywhere I Go, which won her the Songwriter of the Year prize at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, Back To Shore is a thoughtful, attractive and radio-ready package full of testimony to Shari’s hard-earned familiarity with existential turbulence, heart storms, and the potential for redemption in following your conscience’s GPS.
The first three songs are lit by themes of wisdom, comfort and hope, and by Scott Smith’s galvanizing electric guitar and dobro, energizing the tidal attraction of the record. The key resolution of the second song, “Love is Everything,” offers a recuperation strategy from loneliness, fear and desperation with a simply-sung cure that spreads a positive sheen across the entire record’s topography. The album is imprinted throughout with Shari’s mature perspective and affable personality: candid and wry, “a little tough and a little wild,” accepting love with gratitude and the pains of regret with equanimity.
“I don’t know what’s happened to me, but I feel so positive and so happy, virtually all the time,” she says. “There’s a lot of joy in me now.”
This feeling is communicated to the listener through long, ornately harmonized vocal lines, upbeat phrasing and the artistically latticed interplay of instruments.
To assign credit for these empathetic attributes, the disk is once again co-produced by Shari and her “giant science-brain” daughter Julia Graff, alongside James Perrella, who both graduated from the same exclusive McGill masters class in music recording.
Along for the voyage is another proud McGill alumnus – and Bowen Island’s favourite piano teacher – Cindy Fairbank, left, and Shari’s High Bar Gang compadre Kirby Barber, right, who is currently touring the record as Shari’s bass player but who brings luminous harmony and guitar skills to the album.
The thoughtful metaphoric balladry of “The Sweater” holds the heart with a carmellized string duet weave and Shari takes over the fiddle herself for a celebration of her affection for Canada and its natural soul provisions. Reflective moods and a hope for reconcilliation with “hurtful and thoughtless” circumstances dominate “These Lines,” “By And By” and “Forgiveness.” And the album concludes with a bipolar icecap of an instrumental called “Ferry Tale Jig” and a final “Goodnight” that calls us all into a tentative eulogy for the planet – which is also a concern in another of her songs, “Mars,” and the more profound personal farewell of the narrator of “That’s What I Thought Too,” which also features the deep blue B3 skills of Cindy Fairbank.