Home Jason's Jukebox The Chat Room: Harry Lee Follon

The Chat Room: Harry Lee Follon

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With his thick grey beard and ubiquitous wide-brimmed hat, Harry Lee Follon looks like a man transplanted from a previous century. But that timeless image is the ideal reflection of his music—pure, honest songs that are as emotionally resonant in 2024 as they would have been in 1924.

On his new EP, Uncle’s Lament, Harry bares his soul on five songs, accompanied only by pedal steel guitarist Chris Hierlihy and fiddler Ally Corbett, a marked change from his prior work with his band, Uncle Harry & the Kickstands. Harry wrote most of the songs during the pandemic, and the isolation he was feeling suggested they would be better suited for a solo project. After getting the green light from his label, Down By The Point Records (Matt Paxton & The Pintos, Ben Somer), Harry laid down the tracks with his trusted producer Michael Keire at Threshold Recording in Hamilton, ON.

While the loss of his mother in 2021 permeates the EP’s singles, “Won’t Say Goodbye” and “Grief,” it’s still hard not to be uplifted by Harry’s vocal performances and his natural ease at crafting memorable melodies. The overall feeling while listening to Uncle’s Lament is something close to sitting in a front parlour enjoying good friends playing music together.

Indeed, making the record turned out to be the remedy Harry needed to help heal his soul. On the other hand, Harry still wanted to include some light-hearted moments on Uncle’s Lament, one being “Sunshine Cup,” which he describes as a glimpse of how his wife put up with him during the pandemic. The song is also a showcase for the instrumental interplay between Chris’ pedal steel and Ally’s fiddle.

It’s another standout example of Harry’s commitment to following in the footsteps of John Prine and Townes Van Zandt, although he says that he’s also inspired by younger artists working in that tradition, such as Jeffery Martin and Joe Pug, as well as fellow Canadians Spencer Burton and Zachary Lucky. With Uncle’s Lament, Follon’s name could soon join that roll call.

Harry took some time to tell us more about Uncle’s Lament, which is available now from Bandcamp and on all digital platforms.

 

Your new EP Uncle’s Lament displays a different side of your musical personality than people might be familiar with. Did your songwriting lead you to make this creative decision?

Some of these songs I brought to my band, Uncle Harry & The Kickstands, and they just didn’t feel like they fit, so I wanted to strip them down.

How closely did you work with the other musicians in crafting the songs?

I thought it would be a great time to work with some more traditional instruments and I knew exactly who to call. I always wanted to work with Ally Corbett as I’ve been a fan of her fiddle playing for years. My trusted pedal steel player Chris Hierlihy knows exactly when to play and even more importantly when NOT to play. I love what they brought to these songs.

Obviously, grief is the prominent theme on the EP. What lessons have you learned about how to deal with aging and loss?

For me, I turn to music. Having a creative outlet is so important; life moves pretty fast, so I love capturing moments in time in song. Seeing the world through my kids’ eyes helps me remember to slow down and take it all in.

Were there any songwriters who you looked to for inspiration for these songs?

My fellow Down By The Point label mates Matt Paxton & The Pintos, and Ben Somer have really been helpful to me, and seeing them succeed inspires me to work harder. Having started my songwriting journey later in my life, it’s given me plenty of life experiences to draw from.

Do you have plans to play live, and what can people expect when they come to hear you?

I’ve been playing live for 30 years so it’s actually where I’m most comfortable, as opposed to a recording studio. I like to let my guard down and invite the audience to join along with me for the journey. The goal is always to establish a three-minute connection where nothing else matters — living in the moment, and appreciating how lucky we are.

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