Zachary Lucky, prince of these prairies, has returned with his soul on the mend. The dire Ballad of Losing You is one long slow closing of the eyes. Lap steel, violin, and a timbrous guitar combine to convey a robustness of feeling this reviewer has long since heard. The execution of this record is without flaw, lulling and centripetal in its pull. If you want to feel like a leaf about to break from your summer branch and float quietly and inconsequentially to the ground, drop the needle on this new record and know you’re lucky.
Catch the man on tour for the next two months. If you are in Canada, chances are he’s coming your way. Tour dates.
Today, Zachary Lucky quietly revealed the four-track-recorded demos for last year’s “Saskatchewan.” The songs are familiar, paying a lyrical debt to his home province, Saskatchewan: the previously unreleased “Leaving pt. 2” pays similar homage.
The recordings are warm and soft, imbued with the comfort of practice; these songs serve long tours of duty as Lucky traces a lattice across Canada, always on the road. I have seen Zachary play many times, and the aesthetic of the demos perhaps best captures the way you are drawn into his longing, the way his songs hover in the air as the loud bar goes silent. Zachary is a folk historian in the vein of Stan Rogers; he makes every effort to understand and convey the lives of those who occupy the places he loves.
“Back in the Fall” is a standout track — one I feel is best captured in simplicity, stripped of even the album version’s subtle arrangement. Occasionally, I expect and lament the loss of Carly Maicher‘s harmonies. But hey, that just means I get to sing along a little louder.
The moment of satisfaction is brief; it is anticipation that extends the seconds. Perhaps that explains the lengthened effect of this EP. It clocks in at under 20 minutes, but each track is imbued with a meandering sense of development that instills the feel of a much longer journey. These demos are shadows cast by the great ideas of what they will become — blueprints of a colossus. They were recorded on tape by Zachary Lucky during a brief respite from the perpetual motion of that workhorse Saskatchewanite. Captured is the air of Grand Manan, the voices of talented friends and the intimacy of the low studio.
These tracks are the summer night, with only time for a brief take between whiskey and dancing. Look for the full length in winter, when isolation allows for introversion and perfection.
Zachary Lucky is the archetypal Canadian folk singer of my generation. He is almost always on the road. He consistently writes simple, gentle, heart warming canticles that any folk lover can sink their teeth into. He is truly the bread and butter of the massive praire folk scene. There isn’t a folk singer I know who doesn’t know Mr. Lucky. He is a joy to watch perform and his entire person radiates noble fraternity. For all these reasons and more, Zachary Lucky deserves to write Saskatchewan’s eponymous folk record. Trying to pick individual songs to highlight on this new record is a difficult task. We have here a record that truly works best as a whole. If you’re looking for a quick peak though, I do suggest the title track, ‘Saskatchewan’, where the band seems to really flex their muscle in their own subtle and subdued way. Lucky returns to Edmonton on May 3rd at Wunderbar. I have no doubt that it will be another intimate sojourn into his ever deepening coffers of folk.
Zachary Lucky is a respected, well-liked, always-touring folkie from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Last time I saw Zach perform, he brought a friend with him, a drummer. Sonically closer than mere travelling companions, the duo conveyed all of the wide-open intimacy of his prairie soundscapes, hurried along by solid percussion and a clean, sharp electric guitar. This bootleg captures a fuller, but just as tight-knit group performing in North Bay, Ontario. Do not put this one on shuffle. Pick out a good book, pour a glass of red and settle in for the night.