Artful music: Ian Foster releases ‘The Great Wave’ locally this week

Tara Bradbury
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The most artful way of recording an album, according to Ian Foster, requires a space with no studio clock and no deadline. Panoramic windows with a view of the ocean helps, as does a natural reverb. Bonus points for artfulness if the place is filled with, well, art.

Singer/songwriter Ian Foster will release his latest album, “The Great Wave,” in
St. John’s tonight and Friday.

Foster went looking for an alternative space in which to record his latest album and found it in the James Baird gallery in Pouch Cove.

In an open-concept house on the ocean, the art gallery is where Canadian songstress Sarah Slean wrote part of her “Land and Sea” album, and where Foster and co-producer/engineer Robert Kelly spent most of January and February, recording, essentially living and soaking up the atmosphere.

“The vibe of the place really got into the bones of the album. When you find a unique space like that, it brings out even more creativity in capturing the sound and infuses that creativity back into the songs themselves. We worked very in­tense­ly as well, which in turn gives the record a cohesive sound that runs through the different styles and themes,” Foster says.

The record, “The Great Wave,” is a collection of songs written over the past three years or so, over a fair bit of geography: points in Newfoundland, Labrador, Ontario and Italy, to name a few, all served as inspiration for Foster when it came to his subject matter.

“Ethie” tells the tale of the SS Ethie, a mailship which sank in December 1919 about 32 kilometres from Bonne Bay, and the dramatic rescue of the ship’s passengers and crew, while “Spire” was written during Foster’s trip to the Duomo in Milan in 2012.

“There does seem to be something about the songs that tie them all together,” Foster says. “I find that about all my records. There tends to be something connecting everything.”

That something could well be Foster’s storytelling — he’s known for his detail, craftsmanship of lyrics and poetic sensibility, which have earned him nominations and awards from MusicNL, the East Coast Music Association, International Songwriting Competition and Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Awards.

Listen to Ian Foster's "A Man Out Of Time"

Foster, who has released five albums as well as a short film (last year’s “One More Song,” which screened at the Atlantic Film Festival and the Nickel Independent Film Festival), reckons his storytelling has matured with “The Great Wave.”

“I personally feel there is an evolution. I think every artist should feel like that when they release something,” he explains.

The title of the new record — depicted literally with an album cover featuring artist Elzbieta Krawecka’s “Salt Rose,” which hung in the Baird gallery while Foster was working there — is a reference to the passage of time, Foster says.

Over the past couple of months, Foster has been touring the country in support of “The Great Wave,” but is home in St. John’s for the album’s official local launch. He’ll perform an intimate show at Winterholme tonight at 7:30 with special guest Kat McLevey, and a full band show Friday night at The Ship, starting at 10:30, with guests Kalem Mahoney and Waterfront Fire. Tickets are $15 for tonight’s show and $10 for Friday night’s, and are available at Fred’s Records on Duckworth Street.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: East Coast Music Association, The Ship

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Pouch Cove.In, Ontario Italy Bonne Bay Milan

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