by Scott Roos
It would be hyperbole to say that it's been a hard road for Lily Plain's Wade Fehr since he started his journey in the music business some 20 years ago. One thing is for sure, though, the journey may or may not have been a long and arduous one but through his straight forward work ethic and a strong dedication to his songwriting craft, Fehr's proverbial ship seems to finally be coming in. This past Sunday, it was announced that Fehr had made the final ballot of the Saskatchewan Country Music Association's "Roots Album or EP of the Year" category for his latest outing entitled Of Ghosts and Graveyards. It's a big leap for Fehr since his 2019 debut solo full length. It's his first SCMA nomination and he couldn't be happier.
"I think my last record was a stepping stone to this one and it’s success. I gained more listeners and had the opportunity to play some bigger stages after the last record. Then I used what I gained with the last record’s success to elevate this one. If it weren’t for (my first record) My Way Back Home and the shows that followed I wouldn’t have been able to access the new listeners and performance opportunities the new record achieved. And with that, this award nomination," explained Fehr in a recent interview.
This is the second time that Fehr rolled the dice and chose to have his record produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by local music mogul Joel Rohs at Tri Sonic Sound in Prince Albert. Rohs' familiarity with Fehr for Of Ghosts and Graveyards enabled the pair to branch out and evolve together musically. The finished product is a rootsy, bluesy affair woven together with Fehr's own unique brand of storytelling in the lyrics.
"Joel has a great ear when it comes to recording. He knows where something is missing, or when something needs to be stripped away. We were on the same page with the sound we wanted on this record. On top of that he is a talented guitarist and his guitar licks add so much to my songs," said Fehr.
"Working with Wade is a real treat," added Rohs, "We’ve got a great work flow and relationship in the studio that we’ve built over his past two releases. He’s got a solid vision of how he wants the tunes to sound, and is also willing to take a risk when I’ve got a crazy idea. When it comes down to it, it’s all about the songs itself, and Wade writes great tunes. They all have a story, a meaning, and a purpose. I’m very lucky I get to build upon that foundation that Wade’s laid down."
Fehr will be in tough against the slick, radio friendly production from The North Sound's As the Stars Explode, the rifftastic, delightfully preachy Come Along With Me by JJ Voss on top of solid outings put forth by Jay & Jo and Yvonne St. Germaine. Fehr's a pretty grounded guy, steeped in humility and just grateful to have gotten as far as he has. However, he most definitely deserves the accolades and praise that he's received for this record. It may even be argued that the stripped down, gritty, predominantly acoustic approach of Of Ghosts and Graveyards is one of the truer expressions of the roots genre of the five nominees.
"I have a lot of respect for the Saskatchewan Country Music Association. This province has so much talent and to see my name along side some of the great artists of Saskatchewan is something special," said Fehr.
In the meantime, Fehr has gone back to doing what he always does. And that's just fine with him.
"I will always be making music. I always have a bunch of songs I’d like to record and I’ll always be writing more. For now I will keep pushing this album, and we’ll see where things go from here," said Fehr.
*pictures by Scott Roos