Singer-songwriter-pianist Jeffery Straker is crossing Canada on tour with his new album “Dirt Road Confessional”. The 12-song recording brings a roots-inspired flavour to his piano-driven sound, while taking the listener on a journey through story ballads and uptempo grooves. Lyrically the lens is turned inward providing insight into the vulnerabilities of a nomadic musician’s life on the road, and observations of the world he’s encountered performing 100+ shows a year. Whether singing about the discovery of love that sometimes only distance can provide (Thousand Miles Away) or the ups and downs that combine to drive an artist in the pursuit of creation (Beauty in the Grey), the record is both contemplative and joyous.
Jeffery grew up listening to country music on the farm where he grew up in rural Saskatchewan. At the same time he was studying and enjoying classical piano music – eventually playing full sonatas and concertos by composers like Beethoven and Grieg. And while doing that he was a sucker for a good pop song with a great hook, as well as the poetry and wordsmithing of Joni Mitchell & Neil Young. Fast forward to this album. The singer-musician and road warrior has created a recording that sounds, wonderfully, like his influences: a little bit country, a little bit piano-pop, & a lot of stories. Lyrically the album speaks to the tug between life on the road pursuing a dream of music and the longing for love. It takes the listener into the dusty corners of life’s travels, through it’s dynamic yet cohesive range.
“This great work isn’t just for fans of singer/songwriters in a ’70s vein, it belongs on the shelf beside the finer recordings of Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, and Elton John”
Mark Rheaume – CBC Radio (Dirt Road Confessional)
Straker regularly draws comparisons to a young Billy Joel or Elton John, with touches of Rufus Wainwright and Harry Nilsson thrown in, but on Dirt Road Confessional his personal storytelling style has landed bright and distinct. At the same time, he was determined to explore different approaches in the studio, which led the album to be constructed out of five separate sessions. Daniel Ledwell (Jenn Grant) produced three songs in Nova Scotia, Royal Wood co-wrote two songs and co-produced them with Lawrence Katz in L.A., Dean Drouillard (Justin Rutledge, Amelia Curran) produced two songs in Toronto—where an additional track was also laid down with Robyn Dell’Unto—and Murray Pulver (The Bros. Landreth) co-produced the balance with Brad Prosko during sessions in Regina. “Musically I’ve moved in a more rootsy direction here – dobro, banjo and acoustic guitar are featured, but piano is, of course, still at the core of most of the songs.”
“Gifted in his ability to write intricate story songs buoyed by melodies that fit a listener’s ears like a beloved, broken-in glove…Straker the songwriter ascends to the company of artists whose songs reverberate for audiences, and he’s already been compared to many of those by earlier reviewers. Billy Joel, Elton John for sure – but some songs are like 70’s piano standards from Carole King” Calgary Herald
Straker, has several releases to his name. His 2012 album Vagabond, produced by multiple JUNO-nominee Danny Michel brought him to the attention of many listeners. Fuelled by stellar reviews—the Toronto Star called Vagabond “one of the most faultlessly conceived and meticulously executed albums in any genre to come out of Canada in a long time”. With the album Straker embraced a busy live schedule, ranging from house concerts to prominent folk and jazz festivals and sold-out theatre appearances with Canadian symphony orchestras.
That momentum kept building with the release of North Star Falling (produced by Dean Drouillard-2015), which hit the Top 10 on iTunes’ Canadian singer/songwriter charts and strengthened his ever-growing fan base in Europe and Latin America. Admittedly, the push-and-pull between a career in music and a desire for more stable life—as portrayed on Dirt Road Confessional—won’t likely be resolved anytime soon. At this point, Jeffery Straker is giving all he has to his music, and the evidence is clear from the creative strides he’s made on this recording.