Have You Ever Heard the Story is a solid folk album in the truest sense of the term.
Mike Bravener’s love affair with traditional New Brunswick folk music has helped breathe new life into several timeless songs over the past few years. Beginning with his 2020 album, Depends Upon The Pay – Traditional Miramichi and New Brunswick Folk Music, Bravener has found a new passion in researching and reinterpreting songs, many of which date back well over a hundred years. By presenting them to an entirely new generation of listeners, he is continuing the tradition of passing these songs of love, courtship, humour and tragedy along from singer to singer, and listener to listener. Seeing these songs carried forward into the future is an essential and important task and one Bravener does well. On his latest release, Have You Ever Heard the Story, Bravener continues along the path he established on his previous album presenting a diverse mix of New Brunswick history through songs composed in this region and others brought here from England, Ireland and Scotland.
One of the things that often sets traditional folk songs apart from contemporary writing is their lack of innuendo. The face value, this-is-the-story-I-want-you-to-hear approach to lyricism that defines a lot of these songs helps to give Have You Ever Heard the Story its unique identity. That’s not to say there aren’t sophisticated moments of clever brilliance in these songs. But much like the time when they were written, there is a simplistic nature to a lot of these words and stories. It’s an honesty that you don’t find as much in works of contemporary songwriting.
But lyrics are only part of the picture. When you consider most, if not all, of these songs have existed simply in lyrical form without any definitive or lasting melodic structure, the interpretations presented on Have You Ever Heard the Story help establish a new identity for each of these songs. For this recording, Bravener has assembled a group of folk-friendly musicians from the Fredericton region working together under the collective title, Bluebird. With arrangements led by accordion, fiddle and acoustic guitar, Have You Ever Heard the Story is a solid folk album in the truest sense of the term. But as much as it is a trip back in time and a tip of the hat to the singers and songwriters who came long before us, the album also serves to expose the roots of popular music and remind us all that no matter how far removed from the past contemporary music can sometimes feel, the core of any good song is a good story. And good stories stand the test of time.
Have You Ever Heard The Story was released July 14, 2022.