Derek Janzen the terrific writer and artist better known for his musical presence as First Nations, the prolific and naturalistic folk noir artist of Grande Prairie and now Victoria returns with an eighth album, Black Beach. Derek’s tunes usually channel influences like Akron/Family and Mount Eerie so you know from the get-go that his taste is impeccable. This new album incorporates a lot of casio goodness too. Black Beach will deliver you some ballads, some bangers, and a lot of sing-together-now opportunities to boot. Look for keyboard procussion, tribal toms, banjo, tambos, horns, and other such flourishes to lend the songs some unique texture. Most importantly, I would like to comment on his signature snowy caterwaul and what it communicates—a very naturalistic primordial sort of poetry that narrows in on concepts and images ubiquitous to mankind from time immemorial, ie. wind, fire, house, swimming, friend, snow, blood, beach, mountain, singing, colours. Personally, this is my favorite variety of poetry. You will see it a lot in poets like Olaf Hauge, Phil Elvrum, Marie Claire Blais, and, more so by circumstance, Du Fu, Li Po, Rumi, etc. Set to music, the strength of the concepts are obviously amplified. That is, of course, what music is meant for. And that too is from time immemorial. Janzen’s particular brand of this poetry is made his own by his contemporary presence in time and his point of reference being uniquely a) Canadian and b) coming from a place of youth in a thoroughly modernized nation. Those personal filters through which Janzen sees the world will at times produce a different affect in his poetry that Du Fu or Hauge could not have produced. Poetically, those are his strongest moments. Cop Black Beach when it’s available and next time First Nations plays in Edmonton, make a point of being there!