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‘It’s scary, but it’s beautiful’


Cory Tetford is on the phone from a hotel room in Oregon, on a little detour. A hiccup, he calls it.

On tour with Alan Doyle as part of the band, the musicians were on their tour bus, asleep in their bunks, when the bus broke down. They called a shuttle to take them to a hotel, and were ready to hit California once the bus was fixed.

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Cory Tetford to help close NSO’s current season Saturday night

“Never a dull moment,” Tetford says, laughing. He’s not bothered in the least — he and Doyle and the others are more or less roommates at this point, having been playing together since 2012 (but really digging in as of last year). There’s nothing he and Doyle don’t know about each other now, he reckons, and it has been to their advantage, especially when it comes to writing music together.

Tetford is releasing “In The Morning” — his first solo CD since 1999 — in St. John’s Thursday night, much of it written by himself and Doyle while on the road.

“It’s been a very busy year, but I’m proud of this record. I’m eager for people to hear it. It’s a good snapshot of where I am as a musician and a writer and a person,” Tetford says.

A native of central Newfoundland who has been based in Nova Scotia for more than a decade, Tetford grew up on church music, singing and playing gospel songs as a toddler and touring with his brothers and his father, a Pentecostal preacher.

He released his debut solo album, “Grace,” 17 years and one month ago (October 16, 1999 — Tetford remembers the exact date), earning himself a MusicNL Award for Male Artist of the Year and the 2000 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Emerging Artist of the Year Award.

A year later, he and Paul Lamb formed the duo Crush, releasing two albums and garnering eight East Coast Music Awards and a Juno nomination.

After that, he took a decade off.

“I was in my studio in my pyjamas, working on people’s records and on TV shows (as a composer, producer and engineer), and I just stayed home with my family,” Tetford explains of his hiatus. “I just didn’t feel inspired to write something that I would feel proud of. I could probably have put out a record, but I just didn’t feel it.”

“In the Morning” is a collection of 10 tracks, showcasing Tetford’s stellar voice first and foremost. Instruments are minimal: a fiddle, a pedal steel, maybe some drum and bass. The album was mostly recorded live off the floor.

“It was so refreshing to get into a room with musicians that I admire and respect and just let them go and hang on for dear life,” Tetford says. “It was a freeing experience.”

Songs on the album are country-gospel-sounding, but an old-school, throwback country, with simple arrangements.

Tetford’s emotion is audible on every track— it’s clear he feels what he has written. His version of “Amazing Grace” is a capella, his voice ringing clear. His hold of the high notes and brief moments of silence add to the emotion.

Some of the tunes are very personal, such as “Over and Over,” co-written with Doyle, and inspired by Tetford’s mother.

“She passed away when I was 21,” he explains. “The song is just about missing her and about realizing that while it’s unfortunate that we lose loved ones, the memory and the love that’s there continues to carry on and it lingers. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Tetford isn’t used to getting so personal on recordings, and credits Doyle with encouraging him to open up.

“Sometimes it’s easy to shelter yourself away if you’re just writing by yourself, but he sort of dug deep and asked the harder questions. Therapist Doyle,” Tetford says, chuckling.

The CD’s title track was written with Canadian music legend Barney Bentall, telling of a gypsy musician and the road not taken; “Gone,” features a gospel choir.

Tetford had originally planned to include Ron Hynes’ “Shines Like Diamonds” on the album, but decided against it after Hynes died a year ago.

“I didn’t know how to treat that,” he explains, adding he still plays the song live. “I didn’t want it to look like I was trying to take advantage or be an opportunist. That’s not what I wanted. My respect for Ron and his art is authentic. Whenever (his death) comes up, I feel heartbroken.”

Tetford is releasing “In the Morning” with a show at the Jag Hotel on George Street West, starting at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Tickets are $20 and are available at the front desk of the hotel. The album will be available at Fred’s Records and on CD Baby and iTunes the same day.

Tetford hopes it will resonate with listeners, but says the album was also made for himself. The deaths of musical icons such as Hynes, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and others over the past year have brought that thought even closer to home for him.

“I want to leave bodies of work that I’m proud of and that represent who I am, not just as a musician but as an individual,” he says. “There are little bits of me on this record and it’s scary, but it’s beautiful.”

On tour with Alan Doyle as part of the band, the musicians were on their tour bus, asleep in their bunks, when the bus broke down. They called a shuttle to take them to a hotel, and were ready to hit California once the bus was fixed.

RELATED STORY:

Cory Tetford to help close NSO’s current season Saturday night

“Never a dull moment,” Tetford says, laughing. He’s not bothered in the least — he and Doyle and the others are more or less roommates at this point, having been playing together since 2012 (but really digging in as of last year). There’s nothing he and Doyle don’t know about each other now, he reckons, and it has been to their advantage, especially when it comes to writing music together.

Tetford is releasing “In The Morning” — his first solo CD since 1999 — in St. John’s Thursday night, much of it written by himself and Doyle while on the road.

“It’s been a very busy year, but I’m proud of this record. I’m eager for people to hear it. It’s a good snapshot of where I am as a musician and a writer and a person,” Tetford says.

A native of central Newfoundland who has been based in Nova Scotia for more than a decade, Tetford grew up on church music, singing and playing gospel songs as a toddler and touring with his brothers and his father, a Pentecostal preacher.

He released his debut solo album, “Grace,” 17 years and one month ago (October 16, 1999 — Tetford remembers the exact date), earning himself a MusicNL Award for Male Artist of the Year and the 2000 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Emerging Artist of the Year Award.

A year later, he and Paul Lamb formed the duo Crush, releasing two albums and garnering eight East Coast Music Awards and a Juno nomination.

After that, he took a decade off.

“I was in my studio in my pyjamas, working on people’s records and on TV shows (as a composer, producer and engineer), and I just stayed home with my family,” Tetford explains of his hiatus. “I just didn’t feel inspired to write something that I would feel proud of. I could probably have put out a record, but I just didn’t feel it.”

“In the Morning” is a collection of 10 tracks, showcasing Tetford’s stellar voice first and foremost. Instruments are minimal: a fiddle, a pedal steel, maybe some drum and bass. The album was mostly recorded live off the floor.

“It was so refreshing to get into a room with musicians that I admire and respect and just let them go and hang on for dear life,” Tetford says. “It was a freeing experience.”

Songs on the album are country-gospel-sounding, but an old-school, throwback country, with simple arrangements.

Tetford’s emotion is audible on every track— it’s clear he feels what he has written. His version of “Amazing Grace” is a capella, his voice ringing clear. His hold of the high notes and brief moments of silence add to the emotion.

Some of the tunes are very personal, such as “Over and Over,” co-written with Doyle, and inspired by Tetford’s mother.

“She passed away when I was 21,” he explains. “The song is just about missing her and about realizing that while it’s unfortunate that we lose loved ones, the memory and the love that’s there continues to carry on and it lingers. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Tetford isn’t used to getting so personal on recordings, and credits Doyle with encouraging him to open up.

“Sometimes it’s easy to shelter yourself away if you’re just writing by yourself, but he sort of dug deep and asked the harder questions. Therapist Doyle,” Tetford says, chuckling.

The CD’s title track was written with Canadian music legend Barney Bentall, telling of a gypsy musician and the road not taken; “Gone,” features a gospel choir.

Tetford had originally planned to include Ron Hynes’ “Shines Like Diamonds” on the album, but decided against it after Hynes died a year ago.

“I didn’t know how to treat that,” he explains, adding he still plays the song live. “I didn’t want it to look like I was trying to take advantage or be an opportunist. That’s not what I wanted. My respect for Ron and his art is authentic. Whenever (his death) comes up, I feel heartbroken.”

Tetford is releasing “In the Morning” with a show at the Jag Hotel on George Street West, starting at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Tickets are $20 and are available at the front desk of the hotel. The album will be available at Fred’s Records and on CD Baby and iTunes the same day.

Tetford hopes it will resonate with listeners, but says the album was also made for himself. The deaths of musical icons such as Hynes, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and others over the past year have brought that thought even closer to home for him.

“I want to leave bodies of work that I’m proud of and that represent who I am, not just as a musician but as an individual,” he says. “There are little bits of me on this record and it’s scary, but it’s beautiful.”

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