Free to Grow share a pair of new songs

Category: music 142

After a series of setbacks placed Free to Grow on indefinite hiatus, the Fredericton-based prog rock collective has returned with its first new material since the release of Imperfection, the band’s 2020 full length album. 

Matt Carter 

The world was a very different place the last time we heard new music from Free to Grow. The group’s latest full length album, Imperfection, arrived during the summer of 2020, back when we were all still coming to terms with the concepts of “bubbles”, social distancing, and wearing masks everywhere we went. Most of us, anyway. The album’s artwork – a play on the collage artists Jann Haworth and Peter Blake created for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – perfectly summed up the band’s ever-shifting collective structure. Besides the obvious nod to founding member Jeff Patch’s love for British folk and rock music from the 60’s and 70’s, the artwork features depictions of the band’s core players and the many guests who contributed to the album’s eleven songs. Had it arrived sometime during 2019 or even last year for that matter, the album’s release show(s) could have been among the most significant events in recent Fredericton music history with more than a dozen musicians from all backgrounds taking the stage to share in the celebration of its release. But as I already pointed out, the world was a very different place the last time we heard new music from Free to Grow. As such, there was no album release show. Pity. 

The Free to Grow trail went cold shortly after Imperfection was released. Though it was not at all unusual at the time – many groups had fallen silent after the pandemic forced a drastic shift in most of our collective priorities – the Free to Grow camp found themselves dealing with a host of additional hurdles. An update on the band’s Facebook page from September of this year addressed the hiatus and hinted towards what the future held for the group. 

We’re Back!!! First Amanda had a baby (a very good thing), then Jeff was diagnosed with bladder cancer (a bad thing), then the Covid pandemic hit (another bad thing).  The end result was that after the release of our third album we were not able to have a release concert and haven’t performed live for a long time.

The good news is that Jeff has been cancer free and has been writing enough material for a fourth album which will be out by 2023. The band, with a mix of old faces and some new ones, has been rehearsing and recording and we will update you on any song releases and public performances that may happen in the near future.”

Free to Grow, Facebook, September 14, 2022

And now the time has come. For new music at least. This week welcomed the release of Along for the Ride and Woodland Dreamer, Free to Grow’s first new songs in more than two years. 

“It feels good to be back writing, rehearsing, recording, and releasing new songs,” said Patch, chatting about the new songs and the group’s forthcoming album. “We started last year but had a few pandemic setbacks with restrictions and people getting sick. 

“The lineup has changed a bit with the addition of Alan Gray on bass, Dan Doucet on guitar and vocals, and Karine Basque on vocals,” he said. “Joe Bonnell, Amanda L. Moss, Catherine LeBlanc and I have been with Free to Grow from the start and James Rooney (drums) was also with us on the last album. Vaughan Evans from The Unheard will guest again with amazing guitar on a couple of tracks. I expect another surprise guest or two before this project is over.”

Both new singles have all the Free to Grow hallmarks that have come to define the band with strong vocals and broad arrangements plotting short epic journeys, both highlighted by a mix of top tier instrumentation. The band has always come across sounding like a playground for seasoned musicians to try new ideas, find new ways to collaborate, and have a lot of fun in the process. These two songs are no exception.

“The new music still has a folk-rock-progressive-classic-rock vibe I think,” said Patch. “We have around 15 other songs at various stages of recording. I expect we will release a song or two monthly culminating in a full album around mid 2023. Whether or not we go vinyl again will depend on the response. I also expect to be back performing live next year.”

 

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