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    Categories: Entertainment

A soldier’s lament

Folk troubador Tim Isberg releases his first full-length album tomorrow night at the Yardbird Suite.

If you’re a soldier deployed overseas, it’s virtually impossible to keep a music career going. But soldiers are resourceful.

If you are Major Tim Isberg, a retiring career soldier determined to transition into music, you can find a way to achieve what you want – even if it’s taken 25 years.

Isberg is officially launching Tears Along the Road, his first radio-ready album at the Yardbird Suite on Oct. 4. It’s what the newly recorded musician calls “my coming out album.”

Tears Along the Road features 11 songs from the country-folk-roots vein. Based on many of Isberg’s personal experiences, the original songs are crafted with strong story-telling lyrics, catchy melodies and acoustic rhythms.

“My first album was recorded 10 years ago. It was more of a trial album recorded with (Canadian folksinger) Carson Cole. It was pretty basic and it was a process for me to learn from,” explained Isberg.

The original CD’s simplicity and depth of material sparked an interest in musicians and they jumped out of the woodwork to open doors for the Sherwood Park soldier.

“I’d get the momentum and be deployed and lose it. I’d come back, regain momentum and be deployed again. I think I did it three times,” he chuckles.

During his last 2013 deployment in Afghanistan as chief of the literacy and language division, Isberg kept in touch with Edmonton producers and musicians.

Shortly after returning from Kabul, musicians held a welcome home concert for him.

“That’s when I met Miles Wilkinson, my producer for this album. He heard me at a couple of jams and we struck up a friendship.”

Wilkinson is a Juno Award winning producer for his work with East Coast sweetheart Anne Murray.

“We made a business plan. A grant didn’t come through. But I still wanted to do it right. I wanted to do it smart.”

The formidable talents of Stewart MacDougall, Mike Lent, Gord Matthews, Sandro Dominelli, Thom Moon, Kristin Wilkinson and Jeff Bradshaw were brought in to provide tight instrumentation.

“But we didn’t want to overproduce it. No matter what, my vocals are at the front and we kept it real.”

The title song, a co-write with MacDougall, is a release from the emotions built up after a friend was killed during a patrol.

“We lost a lot of soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. A lot of us have lost people. Despite how much bravado you have in your body armour, you feel vulnerable when you do your job. But you can’t show that you are afraid.”

Isberg has a sister living in High River and Come Hell or High Water is a tribute to all the people that survived the 2013 catastrophic southern Alberta flood, and Closer Back to Me was inspired by a friend’s suicide.

At the Yardbird concert, Isberg has also invited Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan to set up a table. They sell hand-made crafts from Afghanistan. Nearly 100 per cent of the profits are returned to Afghanistan to pay educational costs for girls.

Anna Borowiecki: Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.