Canadian singer-songwriter has his cake and its too on solo album number nine

Prior to writing his ninth solo record, Canadian singer-songwriter Stephen Fearing, moved across the country.

The journey from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia is 3812 miles according to Google Maps. Such treks always allow for introspection and discovery, and in the great tradition of the troubadour’s that headed west from Woody Guthrie onwards, such journey’s allow for great music.

And great music is what “Every Soul’s A Sailor” has in bucketful’s.

On the gorgeous country strum of the world weary “Carousel” there’s a line that says: “we were born to be creators” and that seems to be the mission statement here, as Fearing runs through the gamut of everything a) that you could think of and b) that you could ever want.

And in the shape of “Blowhard Nation” that includes a no foolin’ protest song, you know like songwriters used to make before they got all emotional. This one knows its targets and has in the crosshairs “a weird looking creature, with a rug and jowly frown” (no prizes for guessing who its about) and it’s barroom boogie style, worthy of Dan Baird, makes for a real highlight.

It’s far from the only one though, as this astonishingly varied record is essentially one long showreel. “The Things We Did” is a magnificent piece of storytelling, using an old time feel and an old-time newsroom as the metaphor for so much more and having an echo or two of Warren Zeavon while it goes about it’s work, while the lad back “Red Lights In The Rain” is brilliantly evocative.

Barely a missed step here, “Gone But Not Forgotten” adds some mournful horns and some 10CC type harmonies from Rose Cousins. “Love The Deal” on the other hand is a piece of blue collar rock n roll and “Love Like Water” adds a jazzy element into the mix, just because it can – and that is as good a reason as any other.

As Fearing attempted to stretch himself, the album – although entirely coherent as a piece of work – never allows itself to settle in one groove. Almost as though there was so much to think about on that mammoth relocation and it all came out as different sounds, “Better Than Good” for example is a simple love song.

The beginning and end cuts here are interesting too. The soulful opener “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” isn’t indicative of anything else here, while the closing title track has a widescreen feel, seemingly casting the narrator as a lost soul looking for answers, “staring at the night sky…pure infinity….and finding none – although doing it over a beautiful lilting guitar background.

“Every Soul’s A Sailor” will, however mean different things to different people. Whatever meanings each person takes from the lyrics, though, there is surely one thing everyone will agree on: that it is a quite brilliant album from an incredibly talented individual. The time he took to go West was clearly very well spent.

Rating 9/10