The story is often told of children brought up in the arms of traditional music, honing their skills with family in one of many bastions of folk music in Canada. Be it the East Coast, West Coast, or somewhere between, many artists cut their teeth during summer festivals, in folk clubs and coffee shops, singing songs older than their grandparents.
Then they pick up a Zeppelin record and things begin to change.
Cara Luft, on the eve of a whirlwind tour in support of her latest album The Light Fantastic, represents some of the best that can come from folk and rock music, a hybrid that more often than not, comes across as a poor rendition of both.
Luft’s success as a co-founder of the Juno Award winning Wailin’ Jennies helped to shape the aesthetic of her latest record, albeit in a backwards way with The Light Fantastic, Luft is able to explore the aspects of playing and performing that she began to miss while being part of the Jennies.
“It’s certainly different,” Luft says of playing solo versus playing with the Jennies, “I don’t have the extra voices, and suddenly I am only hearing my own. Now, I really feel like I can relax and be myself.”
With the new album, Luft has revisited working with male musicians, a practice she says she is glad to get back to. “I didn’t realize how much I missed it. There’s an energy there when I play with male musicians. That really gritty, bottom range vocal helps me to play with that `gut’ sound.”
To get the sound she wanted, Luft enlisted the help of 54-40’s Neil Osborne on the production side of things. “He was very adamant about catching things `off the floor’ and insisted that everything was done in no more than three takes. He believes that if you can’t sing it after three takes, move on. You need to capture the energy of the song right away.”
The pairing of rock and folk is a dangerous match at the best of times. Let’s say that the vast majority of the artists that fall into the category of folk-rock suck – and are relegated, as they should be, to Adult Contemporary radio stations, hopefully far, far away. Luft offers a refreshing blend of musical elements that stays true to her roots, yet pushes in a direction all her own.
- Matt Chomistek