That's How I Walk

Stephen Fearing

Philo Records, 2003

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Rounder Records, continuing its long-term practice of finding accomplished Canadian artists and signing them to US contracts, has brought us their latest gem, Vancouver-based blues-folk artist Stephen Fearing, and his latest CD, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 That's How I Walk. And I have to say, they haven't missed yet. Walk, released on Rounder's subsidiary imprint Philo, is a tight, well-performed, and darned enjoyable piece of work.

Fearing, a fifteen-year veteran of touring, solo and group work, has an undeniable talent. His voice, at once gritty, smoky, and alluring, is still articulate and incisive when it need to be. He has that rarity in music nowadays, a unique voice that is still listenable. His guitar playing is excellent as well (especially the resonator guitar on "Like The Way You Said" and "When My Baby Calls My Name") and he's backed up by a band of competent musicians, blending seamlessly into a musical whole. Production and engineering on the album are crystalline; you can clearly hear Fearing's string sounds on his guitar, and I cheerfully admit I'm a sucker for that.

What makes the CD stand out are the little touches. An unexpected trumpet graces "Town Called Jesus," turning the cliché of acoustic my-home-town blues into something richer and fuller. Shawn Colvin's backing vocals on "The Finest Kind" bring a needed depth, turning a good song into an excellent one. Fearing plainly plays attention to how a song should sound, and doesn't limit himself to the conventions of his musical form.

Other tracks worth mentioning include the wistful, rich "Showbiz"; the bitterly satirical "Rave On Captain" (good to see Canadians understand the last US election was bought, too); the driving and obsessive "Black Silk Gown"; and the highlight of the CD, the haunting "Me And Mr. Blue" -- a tune I couldn't get out of my head (and may, indeed, not get it out for weeks).

Stephen Fearing is another Canadian import who's definitely worth checking out. That's How I Walk is definitely worth picking up.

Rating: A

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© 2003 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Philo Records, and is used for informational purposes only.