Getting older doesn’t necccesarily mean getting old, but sometimes it does mean finding a new direction. Old Man Luedecke, the Nova Scotia songwriter and banjo picker, is working to find ways to chart out his own unique path. While he’s still a young man, he considers himself to be “an old soul.” Last year, he picked up the Juno Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for his 2008 effort Proof of Love.
While the folkster also has songs about quitting his day job and the joys of cooking with bacon, he’s written about less conventional material as well, making reference to Greek mythology on his latest effort.
His new album, My Hands are on Fire and other Love Songs, takes its title from the refrain of his song “The Rear Guard,” which references the myth of Icarus. As the myth goes, Icarus crafted his own wings out of wax and feathers, only to go down in flames after flying too close to the sun. Strangely enough, when Luedecke picks his banjo strings and sings “my hands are on fire,” it sounds downright joyful.
Luedecke explains that he sees the song as “a celebration of individuality.”
“We’re going to be the way we are, and not the way somebody else would like us to be — but then there’s the irony that Icarus doesn’t really make it,” he says with a laugh. “The glue melts in the wings and he dies. It’s just very important, because [...] I’m actually trying to do something different, but the Icarus theme is a nice grounding fact that my homemade wings aren’t going to work.”
Luedecke has also been doing his own thing with his touring itinerary. Last fall, he packed up his banjo and did a two-week bicycle tour of theatres in his home province of Nova Scotia.
“I guess it was sort of a celebratory tour in a way,” he says. “I just felt like I could be anxious about life and touring, and this was a sort thing where I said, ‘hey, I can do this — it’s totally possible.’
“I didn’t do it for any great political reason — it’s just that it was fun. You know, but there’s obviously politics involved in fun.”
Luedecke takes his fun pretty seriously — he’s always been committed to sincerity and earnestness in his songwriting.
“I’m really always looking for something that I can actually say and believe in, and that’s a good way to be,” Luedecke says.
My Hands are on Fire and other Love Songs seems representative of this commitment. While Luedecke points out that his new album hits on some dark subject matter and some of the other tracks are lighthearted, he still sees all of them as genuine love songs.
“Even complicated love songs are [still] love songs, you know? I just think that at the root, most good songs are sort of a conduit for love at some level,” he explains. “If it makes you feel something, I equate that with being a love song.”