Bluecafe Music (label)
06 November 2018 (released)
17 November 2018
Last week saw the commemoration of 100 years since the end of World War One and though war is far from being vanquished from the earth, it's a milestone that the world has been at least attempting to live in some sort of harmony for the past century. In honour of Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veteran's Day or whichever way you observe this holiday of thanks to our armed forces, Vancouver folk artist Geoff Gibbons has released Shadow of a Stone, Songs of Remembrance. This four track EP approaches with reverence and respect the tales of soldiers who have to face dangers and tests that most of us can not possibly imagine. Gibbons draws most of his inspiration sonically from the artists that have straddled the line between rock and country but his lyrics and message are entrenched in the story-telling nature of folk music. He tells tales of living breathing figures and gets inside their hopes, dreams and fears. This album doesn't tread into any heady ideological territory, no arguments over worldviews or the morality of war. It keeps to telling the stories of young men and women whose sole purpose was to defend their home and the people they hold dear.
The title track 'Shadow of a Stone', voiced by wistful guitar, piano and organ, has Gibbons trying to empathize with a soldier, having never had to sacrifice in that way for his country. The haunting image of placing roses on a tombstone underpins this thoughtful tribute to those departed. 'Please Remember Me' lightens the mood somewhat with a whistle and accordion-laced ditty about a young soldier heading off to war, leaving his girl behind. 'Soldier, Soldier' forges ahead with a Steve Earle-like determination and the closer 'The Other Side' makes the banjo into an ethereal messenger taking a fallen soldier to the Great Beyond.
Shadow of a Stone, Songs of Remembrance is a warm tribute to those who fought for us. The best tribute is not to hold them as grandiose symbols as part of a grand battle but as humans who had their lives ahead of them and gave up that freedom so that we could live ours.