Album number thirteen for Canadian musician Fearing who readers of more mature years may remember first came on stream over here thanks largely to working with Clive Gregson and Christine Collister. Then as now his material is of a quality which makes a mockery of simplistic terms like singer songwriter, here he’s gone for the jugular under the supervision of producer Scott Nolan, who’s used to handling the work of Mary Gauthier another whose work doesn’t fit neat pigeon holing. “ I’m always pushing myself out of my comfort zone,” he recently commented when explaining how he’d approached ‘ The Unconquerable Past,” and summoned up influences of old analog recordings.
His world view is sharp, edgy and homely all at the same time, it’s as if he’s saying look this is great but wouldn’t it be better if… there’s no direct sloganeering but amongst the melodic craic and undoubted tuneful ambience Fearing summons ‘Someone Else’s Shoes,’ is gutsy enough to note true understanding lies in appreciating others and their circumstances, whilst ‘Christine,’ celebrates relationships which endure and ‘Emigrant Song,’ written in collaboration with Ulster’s own troubadour Andy White sums up the appeal of life starting over in a new location.
Thirteen’s unlucky for some, not Stephen Fearing, this is his strongest and most alluring set in quite some time. An artist who knows where he wants to be but also influenced strongly by where he comes and came from. Rather beguiling all told. Excellent choice for new English label Fish Records (see website below) to issue.