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Sunday September 14, 2014
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David Francey

 

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music is deeper, tougher. David Francey returns to the Ark, where he's a staff favorite (which ought to tell you something), on February 26.

The national strands of Francey's music are Scottish, Canadian, and American. The Scottish qualities are obvious on first listen: Francey moved from Scotland to Canada with his family when he was twelve, and he retains a strong Scottish accent. Although often very short, his songs share qualities with Celtic ballads; they don't waste words, and they communicate through precise, powerful images. He sometimes sings without accompaniment, and he can convey a story in a sparse, completely unsentimental way. "Torn Screen Door," perhaps Francey's most famous song in Canada, tells of a farm family that gives up and moves to town, with "just the wheat waving them goodbye."

For much of his life, Francey did manual labor--exploration in the rural Yukon for a mining company, construction, carpentry. His songs of Canada have many topics but often focus directly on working-class life. "I may work tomorrow, but I can't be sure; I'm just a common example of the working poor," he sings. His snapshot of a Montreal bus station grimly includes "the bad boys, the rude boys, they're into the game, and they keep their eyes open for the halt and the lame."

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