“Cluck old Hen” is the first vocal album from Joel Fafard in this decade.
The previous three have been solidly instrumental—stunningly good instrumental—with a richness of original tunes or traditional material re-imagined. But like many performers, what’s on his CD isn’t necessarily all that happens in the concerts; and Joel Fafard was singing these songs live and—his words: “Everybody was asking which albums they were on and I got tired of saying ‘none of them’”.
So here’s a somewhat different program and it’s a great one: solid playing (nobody’s surprised at that; he remains one of our most powerful, rhythmic purveyor of country blues/roots, original and traditional) with his trademarked string trio: Fafard, guitar, Richard Moody, violin/viola and Gilles Fournier bass.
Moody’s bow adds an often-haunting layer of nicely spooky, mysterious underpinning; Fournier is the sort of bassist that’s rare today: understated, solid, content to remain in the back and propel the trio forward with rock-solid rhythms.
There are moments when they play with such cohesion and intimacy it sounds like a single instrument. Few players in acoustic music today know how to really listen to each other as well as these guys. Front and center is the Fafard guitar, lean, lanky, alternately pounding and heartbreaking; not a superfluous phrase or lick, never a note out of place.
It’s a delightful disc of good old tunes (only one track here was unfamiliar to me) and it’s impossible to pick highlights but Angeline the Baker has always been a personal fave and he does it true, tight and to a “t”.
A new album from someone who’s previous work has been a favourite is always approached with a little trepidation. No fear here—Fafard is in fine form, at the top of his game, his guitar howling in the wind and pounding frown the dirt roads where the blues live.
In a long string of great recordings, it continues a tradition of greatness. Buy two; you’ll want to give one to someone you like.
Jurgen Gothe (former host of CBC radio two’s Disc Drive)
“Fafard has begun to set himself apart from the legions of folksy Prairie singer-songwriters with the sort of instrumental prowess you’d expect from a fingerstyle deity. His style isn’t overly busy, but there are moments of genius.”
Bartley Kives, Winnipeg Free Press
“the hint of backwoods cajun vibe hovers around the edges of these songs. This magic and earthiness appears to be born out the group’s unique personalities and shimmering swooping waves of sound. A sympathetic energy truly bigger than the sum of it’s parts.”
Dean Gordon-Smith, The Morning Star, Vernon
“Go out and find this CD if you want some great fingerstyle guitar playing. Joël Fafard is a talented guitarist by any measure, and “Rocking Horse” is a fine recording to let those of us outside of Canada know it.
Kirk Albrecht Minor7th.com
“As far as I’m concerned, the votes are in and the winner of the JUNO for Best Roots and Traditional – Solo Album is Joel Fafard for “RockingHorse”.
Monica Miller CKUA Radio, Alberta
What a great CD!!! (Rocking Horse) I’m the kind of person who listens to Don Ross, the Henrys, Bela Fleck, Zubot & Dawson, etc., etc… So you can imagine my joy when I put on this CD and heard such rich music.”
Don Marcotte Senior Producer, A-Channel’s Big Breakfast Show, Edmonton
“discover the pure roots and character of Joël Fafard, which have beyond any doubt a remarkable and rousing signature.”
Henk te Veldhuis
Bridge Guitar Reviews.
” I never knew acoustic instrumental music could be such a swinging affair. Never boring, very well played up-lifting toe-tapping music. Really surprisingly good… excellent CD. (Rocking Horse).”
Theo Oldenburg DJ, Netherlands.
“many of the (WCMA’s Gala) performances were excellent especially the inspired pairing of Regina acoustic guitarist Joel Fafard and the Calgary Philharmic Orchestra.”
Bartly Kives, Winnipeg Free Press.
“Very musical and highly enjoyable… A great addition to anyones collection”.
Barry Hammond, Penguin Eggs
“Beautiful sound…(Fafard’s) music surprised me”
Lark Clark CKUA Radio, “Alberta
(Rocking Horse) highlights (Fafard’s) expressive picking style and impressive command of slide Guitar.”
Chuck Molgat, Prarie Dog
“If there was an award for best song of the evening it should go to Joël Fafard for the Last Waltz of John Kordic.”
Mitch Dorge, Crash Test Dummies,
at the 4th annual Festival of the Guitar, Winnipeg
“(Rocking Horse) a decadent blend of blues, jazz, Celtic and classical elements, there is also an undenialbe simplicity in its atmospheric tunes”
“This is nice and simple music with integrity and inspiration.”
Gerald Van Waes, Phychedelic Folk