TORONTO – Canadian adventurer, writer and miner of song DAVID NEWLAND releases his fifth album NORTHBOUND: The Northwest Passage in Story and Song, a live collection of original songs based on his travels in the Northwest Passage with Adventure Canada.
Recorded live at Trinity United Church in Cobourg, Ontario on Nov. 3, 2018, it features some of Canada’s finest musicians including his band Uncharted Waters with Sam Allison(Sheesham and Lotus), Saskia Tomkins, Steafan Hannigan (Loreena McKennitt), and Oisin Hannigan. They are joined by Inuit throatsingers Siqiniup Qilauta Sunsdrum (Lynda Brown and Heidi Langille), fiddler Alex Cheung and jawharpist Lois Suluk and more.
Northbound will be released on April 26 at Hugh’s Room Live, 2261 Dundas St. West, Toronto. Doors are at 6:30 pm and music starts at 8:30 pm. Tickets are $25.00 in advance and $30.00 at the door. Call 416-533-5483 for dinner reservations and to guarantee seating, or online at https://hughsroomlive.com/event/davidnewland/. For more information please visit www.davidnewland.com .
Born in Ottawa and now based in Northumberland County’s Cobourg, Ontario, David Newland is a classic folk archetype: the big fella with the deep, resonant voice, who undertakes adventurous journeys to the Canadian hinterland, and returns with powerful songs documenting the experience.
For his new and fifth album Northbound: The Northwest Passage in Story and Song, Newland spent six years of immersing himself in Arctic lore, including multiple trips to the High Arctic via his day job at Adventure Canada. Recorded live at Trinity United Church in Cobourg, the album features his band, Uncharted Waters, specifically assembled for this body of work.
The first song on Northbound “No Way To Stay Warm” finds Newland inhabiting the perspective of one of the sailors on Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition to the Northwest Passage, revealing the voyage’s tragic error – a failure to work with the Inuit of the region. The sprightly melody and catchy chorus are buoyed by a propulsive bodhrán beat and accented by driving fiddle and low tin whistle.
“Poor William Braine” is a sombre lament for one of three of Franklin’s men who is buried at Beechey Island, which ends with a haunting musical reference to the classic, traditional sea-faring “Sailor’s Hornpipe.”
“When It Comes to Love” is a sad ballad that pulls the focus of a lost expedition to the heart-rending tale of one captain’s deadly separation from his beloved. He’s a fool for love, both that for his wife, and for the adventure that ultimately seals his fate. It’s sometimes seen as a riposte to the traditional Irish tune, “Lady Franklin’s Lament.”
Riding the lilting Carribbean riddim of a hand drum and a tropical triangle, “Beautiful Beechey Island” is a comedic departure from the rest of the album, painting a warm, welcoming portrait of a presumed tourist destination, yet still alluding to the fatality of its allure. The song also showcases banjolele by Kobo Town front man Drew Gonsalves.
“Under Forever Skies” is a beautiful, timeless ballad about a perfect moment in nature, under the canopy provided by the midnight sun of the High Arctic.
Stepping out of, and moving forward from the album’s initial historic narrative, on “Oh What an Awesome Sight,” Newland recalls his own personal experience witnessing the wonders of the North through a series of contemporary vignettes. Saskia Tomkin’s fiddle dances around Newland’s voice, flanked by the dueling percussion of father and son Steafan and Oisin Hannigan, culminating in a thrilling crescendo.
“This Moment on the Sea” opens with throatsinging, from Inuit cultural performers Siqniup Qilauta (Lynda Brown and Heidi Langille), combined with seagull sounds on violin, that take flight as they gently segue into Hannigan’s penny whistle. Newland captures another forever moment in nature, documenting his work for Adventure Canada as the pilot of a Zodiac vessel bearing visitors to the far North. It also features another captivating fiddle and drum break.
The stripped-down, bluesy “Boy Along the Shore,” featuring a tasty harmonica solo from Newland, recalls the faces of some of the folks he encountered in the land of Midnight Sun.
“Monument” is a real standout on the album, with the striking vocal blend of rising star Annie Sumi and seasoned singer Tannis Slimmon against Saskia Tomkin’s lush cello. It’s a slow, dignified, funereal testament to the human cost of creating one tiny settlement in an effort to establish sovereignty at the height of the cold war. The Uilleann pipes, played by Hannigan, add to the drama and evocative spirit of the song.
“Musk Ox Stew,” includes everything from a lively accordion to Inuit throatsinging, and from country twin fiddles (Alex Cheung and Saskia Tomkins), to an Irish bodhrán. There are even twin jaw harps, (Lois Suluk and Sam Allison), a nod to the use of that humble instrument in the North. The song recounts his experience of visiting northern communities and finding a friendly welcome that included a gym floor feast full of dancing, games, kids running around, and a meal built around – what else? – Musk Ox Stew.