Moncton musician shares tales of murder, mayhem and revenge on latest album, Folklore.
Like any great story, Folklore, the latest album from Moncton musician Jason Haywood, began with an idea. And in this case, that idea involved the image of a man walking across a frozen lake after committing a horrible crime.
“Out of that initial idea, the song The Ballad of Clara Leigh was conceived,” said Haywood. “It is a song about a man wracked with guilt after killing his lover. He resolves to revisit the scene of the crime to pray for forgiveness. It is during this journey that he begins to hear voices, see things and then is ultimately consumed by his fear, the elements and other forces.”
On his latest release, Haywood explores the worlds of good and evil as narrator/stroyteller through 11 tracks deeply rooted in the folk’s darker elements.
“I had been listening to murder ballads by Johnny Cash, The Louvin Brothers’ Tragic Songs of Life, and particularly Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads album,” said Haywood. “So the inspiration came from there. I also have a passion for horror movies so my mind goes to those dark places quite naturally.”
Folklore is Haywood’s fourth album after nearly 15 years of writing and recording. As a founding member of The Divorcees, he co-wrote the band’s debut album You Ain’t Gettin’ My Country with the frontman Alex Madsen, an album that helped established the band as one of New Brunswick’s premiere country music acts and went on to win the 2008 ECMA for Country Record of the Year.
Haywood left the band in the spring of 2008 to focus on his own career and has since released two recordings, 2012’s A Thousand Miles Since Yesterday and 2017’s Folklore, which will be officially released April 20.
“For this record, I turned away from the more confessional type of songwriting I had done on my previous records in favour of a more narrative approach,” he said. “I haven’t always written songs in this way, but I felt it was the most compelling way to convey the stories I was trying to tell. I’ve certainly enjoyed writing this album and will likely carry on writing in narrative form for a while. It feels more like you’re the author of a short story rather than a lyricist. It’s an interesting and exciting way to work.”
Themes of crime and punishment have a long association with traditional music. When asked to comment on the resurgence of the murder ballad (see Murder, Murder and Bad People and others), Haywood sees a direct connection with the rise in interest and appreciation for traditional music forms like bluegrass and folk.
“I think people have always had a fascination with the darker side of life,” said Haywood. “People enjoy a good scare. Murder ballads and disaster songs are a testament to that fact in that they have been around for a long time and will continue to be passed on in one form or another.
“I think traditional music is certainly making a comeback and will continue to do so,” he said. “People always need an alternative to what’s being played on the radio. They tend to get tired of overproduced and over marketed performers and are gravitating towards something more stripped down and honest that places an emphasis on story and solid musical performance.”
Folklore will be official released April 20 with a release show planned for May 13 at The Empress Theatre in Moncton.