CD review: SIGNS ALONG THE WAY
By Rachel Jagt
"Signs Along the Way" is the second independent recording from prolific Canadian singer/songwriter Doug Folkins. Born and raised in Sussex, New Brunswick, Folkins now spends his time as a forester in Campbell River, British Columbia. Folkins is both a rock artist and a folk troubadour. He follows in the vocal footsteps of east coast artists; but has also embraced the more modern aspects of contemporary Canadian roots rock music. His lyrics are insightful, simple, and poetic; and they are accompanied by solid musical arrangements. His voice is mostly fairly gentle - the kind of voice that will only get stronger and more confident as the years go on.
Folkins introduces his second recording with "Telephone Bay". It's not surprising that a man who hails from New Brunswick and lives in a remote forestry town in British Columbia should possess the words necessary to tell stories of travel and loneliness and long distance charges. In the liner notes, which I always find are the most interesting representation of an artist (after all, what could give a better glimpse of the artist than what he writes about his own songs?), Folkins says of "Centreline": "Every songwriter needs a lonely hitchhiking song." Enough said.
On five of the tracks on "Signs", Folkins is joined by the beautiful voice of Cathy Kalyniuk on harmony vocals. On "The Ride", she adds an eerie quality of sadness to his description of how it felt to finish his first record. Their voices fit well together, creating a different vocal perspective for the songs. "Jimmy" is a tribute to the friends Folkins has made in various logging camps along the way. It is a hard rocking song about rough men in a tough job. Folkins follows that hard rock ode with a troubled plea for sanity called "Flowers", written after the attempted suicide of three native teenage girls in Zeballos, BC. In this song, the power of the songwriter is evident - in commenting on the state of the world in which we all must live.
"Signs Along the Way" is definitely just one part of the journey of this singer/songwriter. He puts his most personal experiences and emotions out in the open in his songs, and he has solid musicianship behind him all the way. He has what it takes to make his mark on the increasingly diverse Canadian indie market; and I look forward to seeing the other pictures he has in his mind, when he is inspired to make them into music.
CD review: TOUCHSTONE
By Rachel Jagt
Folk/rock singer songwriter Doug Folkins, the pride of Campbell River, BC, has just released the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2001 release, "Signs Along the Way." "Touchstone" features 12 original songs; and the list of guest musicians and vocalists is, unfortunately, too long to quote here. I'll just say this: it's an impressive list and represents the wide variety of sounds that make up the songs on "Touchstone."
The musical styles range from celtic on "Rafferty's Revenge" and rockabilly on "Heart of Stone" to the rootsy feel of "Whiskey Wind" and the waltzing country tune "Please Don't Whisper." Folkins' songwriting is mature and skillful - he definitely knows his way around more than one type of song.
My favourite tracks are "On the Phone," an inspirational song about breaking up and picking yourself back up that features a duet with Brodie Dawson; and "Jamie," a poignant tale of broken love. Also good is the funky rock number "Bring it on Back," which Folkins dedicates to his grandfather and the summers spent on his farm in New Brunswick. For the most part, "Touchstone" is a good old-fashioned rock record, perfect for playing loud on sunny summer days.