Here’s the story. My Canadian friends Eric and Mary are driving around Cape Breton and a song comes on the radio. It is the title track of David Francey’s twelfth album The Breath Between.
I can understand. When Eric and Mary lived in Belfast we talked a lot about poetic songs with great lyrics and a spiritual underbelly. I can imagine my friends turning a corner on the Eastern Canadian coast and hearing Francey sing…
That's had us see
The passing into
Souls and hearts
And voices stilled
Before that sun
Could climb the hill
We hold them close
And we carry on
In the breath between
The here and gone
… before shouting “Stockman would love this.” So much so that I got that rare email every 10 years or so, telling me so.
My immediate investigation into the record had me asking how this Scot who moved to Canada at 12 and didn’t start releasing records until his 40s had passed me by.
Even better than that title tracks I was salivating at how Francey delicately sets theology into song too. I love the everyman (and woman) faith of:
The sky was crying long and hard
And Jesus wept by the hospital stairs
And I stood and lit a cigarette
Burnt offering in place of prayer
Francey is a revelation. There nothing fancy. He’s a rustic conversational storyteller in the traditional songwriter sense with a wee sprinkling of the Scottish in occasional fiddle, touch of accent and soul.
Elsewhere Narrow Boats has the sense of place of fellow Canadian Bruce Cockburn, I Called It Love is look back at moments of love in maybe the most radio friendly song and Time For The Wicked To Rest is a sermonette on the mount:
Too many lies too many years
Too much hatred too much fear
Too much avarice too much greed
To ever satisfy the need
It's time for the wicked to rest
It′s time for the wicked to rest
Sooner or later
Sooner the better
Would be best
Time for the wicked to rest
Again I am loving the cleverness of the word play, words that seem to tumble naturally out of a discerning and gifted man sharing with us his insights on love and loss, that short life we live in The Breath Between.
I have said for 30 years that I am drawn to Canadian music because it still has the song at its heart. Here’s another huge dollop of evidence. My new songwriting hero David Francey sitting snugly alongside Cockburn, Fearing, Sexsmith and Edwards.
Thank you Eric and Mary.