Doug Folkins,
Signs Along the Way
(Fenwick, 2001)

Signs Along the Way is the second independent recording from prolific Canadian singer-songwriter Doug Folkins. Born and raised in Sussex, New Brunswick, Folkins now spends his time as a forester in Campbell River, British Columbia. Folkins is both a rock artist and a folk troubadour. He follows in the vocal footsteps of East Coast artists, but has also embraced the more modern aspects of contemporary Canadian roots rock music. His lyrics are insightful, simple and poetic, and they are accompanied by solid musical arrangements. His voice is mostly fairly gentle -- the kind of voice that will only get stronger and more confident as the years go on.

Folkins introduces his second recording with "Telephone Bay." It's not surprising that a man who hails from New Brunswick and lives in a remote forestry town in British Columbia should possess the words necessary to tell stories of travel and loneliness and long distance charges. In the liner notes, which I always find are the most interesting representation of an artist (after all, what could give a better glimpse of the artist than what he writes about his own songs?), Folkins says of "Centreline": "Every songwriter needs a lonely hitchhiking song." Enough said.

On five of the tracks on Signs, Folkins is joined by the beautiful voice of Cathy Kalyniuk on harmony vocals. On "The Ride," she adds an eerie quality of sadness to his description of how it felt to finish his first record. Their voices fit well together, creating a different vocal perspective for the songs.

"Jimmy" is a tribute to the friends Folkins has made in various logging camps along the way. It is a hard-rocking song about rough men in a tough job. Folkins follows that hard-rock ode with a troubled plea for sanity called "Flowers," written after the attempted suicide of three native teenage girls in Zeballos, BC. In this song, the power of the songwriter is evident -- in commenting on the state of the world in which we all must live.

Signs Along the Way is definitely just one part of the journey of this singer-songwriter. He puts his most personal experiences and emotions out in the open in his songs, and he has solid musicianship behind him all the way. He has what it takes to make his mark on the increasingly diverse Canadian indie market; and I look forward to seeing the other pictures he has in his mind, when he is inspired to make them into music.

[ by Rachel Jagt ]
Rambles: 21 December 2001