“I’ve been blown away by the reviews of Darlingford, here and overseas,” says singer-songwriter Cara Luft, whose performing in Cranbrook April 3, one year after her last visit here. “They’re calling it my strongest yet; a how-to manual for aspiring folk players; a desert island disc; one of the best folk records of 2012.”
The reputation as one of Canada’s leading modern singer-songwriters is well-deserved. As a founding member of the Wailin’ Jennies (with Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta), Luft provided the rock-inspired spark which propelled that band into international popularity in the early 2000s, culminating in the 2004 Juno Award for Best Canadian Folk Artist for their album 40 Days.
Feeling constricted by the sudden industry demands and growing disillusioned with careerist tensions within the band, Luft opted to leave the Jennies to re-pursue the solo career she had before joining forces with Mehta and Moody. Luft recorded and released The Light Fantastic in 2007 and is currently reaping the rewards of her fourth album Darlingford.
Romantic agony is the underlying theme of much of her work, but Luft converts her pain into gain. “Whatever anguish we’ve experienced, we need it out of our bodies in order to truly heal and find perspective,” she said. “We have to move through whatever we’re dealing with. For me, it’s playing and singing and writing songs. It requires concentration and focus and creative energy, as well as physically strumming and picking up that pen.
“When I’ve been hit with something and I don’t want it to eat me alive emotionally and mentally, I need to purge it through music.
Luft’s reinventions of traditional English folk songs provide a smart balance to her recorded repertoire; she makes the connection between the Western European folk past and the North American folk present. “My current listening tastes are similar to what I grew up with and appreciated as both a child and young person,” Luft said. “There was a lot of traditional folk in our household, along with the Beatles, Buddy Holly, Stan Rogers, even Neil Diamond. So yes, my tastes are pretty much still the same.”
Luft’s drive and determination have taken her tens of thousands of kilometres, far and away beyond her hometown of Winnipeg. “I’m very lucky to visit so many new and interesting places and be able to perform in all sorts of unique and different venues.” Unique and different certainly describes Luft’s upcoming Cranbrook performance on Wednesday April 3, at Lotus Books.
With continuous experience, Luft has much to say about the modern realities and joys of the touring Canadian folk musician.
“I always encourage others to play and create music, and keep folk music alive and well in our society,” says Luft.
“As a career choice, it’s a really hard life, and music’s an industry that’s constantly changing. There are more roots artists out there making records and touring than ever before, and the competition’s stiff. There are few opportunities out there and too many people grappling over those very small pieces of the pie. That being said, when you’re bit with the music bug it’s really hard to ignore it.
“My best advice is to find balance between performing and other parts of your life.”
Luft described her plans for the near and far future. “I want to carve out time to start writing a new album,” she said, “but I’m not rushing it. Darlingford was the hardest project I’ve done, due to the time, energy, concentration and focus I gave to it. I’m not anxious to return to the studio quite yet.
“Darlingford is just being released overseas, and the rest of 2013 will see me over in Europe several times to support it.”
Cara Luft performs live in concert Wednesday, April 3, at Lotus Books (33 – 10th Ave.S., Cranbrook), 8 p.m.