The cowboy and folk guitar tradition is highlighted in sharp focus on singer/songwriter/guitarist Gary Fjellgaard’s 14th solo album The Collection.
Fjellgaard, a Canadian Country Music Hall of fame member, is revealed as a pure western troubadour in classic fashion: a man, guitar and songs ringing out alone, recorded live in a Vancouver Island church.
This method of record making is something of a lost art, but Fjellgaard is in his element here; a refined version of his live show.
The Collection is a strong album for Fjellgaard, one that was inevitable considering his affinity for bare-bones delivery and natural strength as a storytelling singer. His music is voice and acoustic guitar; his vocals a plaintive nostalgia-tinged vehicle of cowboy culture.
Fjellgaard’s acoustic guitar work sums up the sagebrush lore and captures the western landscape of Canada.
The idea of a one-man live recording using the church as both recording studio and instrument brings uncompromised sound and offhand integrity to Fjellgaard’s visions of dusty heroes, horses, and freedom.
Fjellgaard’s themes are laid out easy, like a love letter to a past era (Reins of Glory, Falcon and the Cowboy, Caragana Wind, Fever) that’s still too strong to become a memory.
–– Dean Gordon-Smith is a local musician and music reviewer for The Morning Star.