Jeffery Straker releases two vulnerable singles from his new album, Great Big Sky

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    With modernization and urbanization comes big change – and inevitable sadness and nostalgia. Regina, SK-based folk artist Jeffery Straker captures a loss of rural identity in his new single “More Than Two by Fours and Timber,” in which he describes a grain elevator being bulldozed in a small farming town.

    Tinged with sunny sadness and harmonica-laced introspection, the song tells the story of how the town near the grain elevator has also been in decline, and how some of the old buildings are boarded up and the church is no longer in use. The townspeople gather to watch the grain elevator coming down and, in witnessing its fall, a part of them and their collective rural identity inevitably crumbles away, too.

    The song comes from a very personal place in Jeffrey’s history. “I’m a child of the Canadian prairies, having grown up on a grain farm in Saskatchewan doing all the ‘farm things’ like cleaning the barn and helping with harvest,” he said.

    Though not everyone shares Jeffrey’s upbringing, the song’s wistfulness for simpler times and for what’s increasingly becoming a bygone era struck a chord with fans. “The first time I sang this song at a show, I had so many people ask me afterwards if they could get it on an album or find it online – but I was just trying it out,” he recalled. “It’s great when a song gets a reaction like that.”

    When bringing “More Than Two by Fours and Timber” to life in the studio in Nashville with producer Steve Dawson, Fats Kaplin came in and added a brilliant harmonica part. “It adds a melancholy character to the tune that really suits the song,” Jeffrey said.

    Jeffrey becomes even more emotionally vulnerable on his mellow, piano-studded second single “Sing Your Song,” which is about finding strength in letting down one’s guard. Co-written with Canadian folk icon Lynn Miles, the song is about when Jeffrey took a leap several years ago and came out as gay. It’s also, equally, about when he quit his job to pursue a music career.

    “It’s hard to say which one was tougher,” Jeffrey said. “I thought that music would be a hobby and that I should really pursue a more ‘typical’ career. I didn’t think I had the chops to make a go of it in the classical world, and the idea of being a touring singer-songwriter seemed pretty outrageous at the time, like traveling with the circus. And everyone around me was saying things like, ‘Stick with the security of the real job.’”

    Singer-songwriter pianist Jeffery Straker grew up taking piano lessons in small-town Saskatchewan and has gone on to perform more than 100 shows per year across Canada, Europe, and Latin America. The roots-y storytelling of his songs has the power to transport a listener out onto a lake in Canada’s north or to the main street of a prairie town. A clever lyricist with an energetic approach to the piano, his songwriting has drawn critical comparisons to the likes of Harry Chapin, Kris Kristofferson, and Murray McLauchlan while maintaining a style distinctly his own. He’s recorded his roots/folk music for CBC radio’s Canada Live and has seen his songs used in film, TV, and theatrical productions. In 2019, he won a Western Canadian Music Award. Recently he was awarded “Roots/Folk Artist of the Year” at both the 2020 and 2021 Saskatchewan Music Awards and has seen the Saskatchewan Country Music Awards name him “Keyboard Player of the Year” three years running.

    Jeffery has emerged from the studio with his latest recording Great Big Sky, which is out this month. Working with Roots/Americana producer Steve Dawson (Nashville), the album delivers a folk-roots singer/songwriter flavour.

    His two singles “More Than Two by Fours and Timber” and “Sing Your Song” are available now.

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