If ever there was a traditional saying that applied to three-time Juno recipient David Francey it falls along the lines of “a rolling stone gathers no moss.”
The folk favourite just returned to Canada from a three-week tour of southern Australia. He’ll be making two stops in western Canada – one at St. Albert’s Arden Theatre on Feb. 6 before heading back to Oz and then the United Kingdom.
Describing his three-week southern hemisphere tour, the Scottish-born Canadian-raised troubadour said, “It was warm and wonderful. They’re a lot like us. They speak with a funny accent but the climate is unbeatable.
Right off the bat there is laughter and humour seeping through his lyrical Scottish burr – a swift indication of how his powerful Everyman lyrics have grabbed the attention of the English-speaking world.
He is a keen observer of life and as a songsmith digs deep and covers a lot of ground. Blessed with a melancholy voice of experience, soulful lyrics and sparse arrangements, he charms the listener and slides into the imagination with the first few lines.
Last year Francey received a Juno for his 10th album, So Say We All, a 14-track that was born out of personal grief.
“I lost my best friend and went into a deep hole. I’ve come a long way and it was a way to chronicle the depressing time,” Francey said.
Best friend Ian MacGregor had laboured in construction with Francey before the folk singer-songwriter turned professional. Despite different careers, the two remained close friends.
Unfortunately, MacGregor was diagnosed with a rare, fast-growing cancer.
“It was one of those things you don’t see coming and it’s different when it’s laid in your lap.”
The title track, So Say We All, celebrates MacGregor’s life.
“When I chose the name So Say We All I didn’t know it came from Battlestar Galactica. But it was a way to say goodbye to a certain time and move on.”
Despite a personal setback, the folk musician’s professional life is on an upward trajectory. In addition, with two grandchildren under the age of three added to his brood, he has automatically gained additional material for songs.
While So Say We All deals with Francey’s loss, it also balances joyful events. There’s Long Long Road, a travelling song written while touring Canada, and Blue Skies, an ode to the first folk festival Francey performed at.
“It was the Blue Skies Festival. It was an astonishing weekend. I was there with my wife, Beth, and my son, Colin, and it was wonderful.”
But Francey, who is not afraid to make a political statement, also takes a jab at greedy global movers and shakers, and speaks for the exploited in American Blues.
“It’s a complaint about the top two per cent that want to rule the whole world. Sometimes when I just watch the news, it just bothers me.”
For his return to the Arden (last performance was in 2007), Francey will sing a mix of old and new. Providing support at the stripped down concert is close friend Mark Westberg (guitar) and multi-instrumentalist Darren McMullen.
“I have so many good memories of the Arden and it’s great to be back.”
Friday, Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
5 St. Anne Street
Tickets: $32. Call 780-459-1542 or purchase online at ticketmaster.ca