Folk musician Brett Wildeman has talent to deliver. His latest album, Mother Earth, demonstrates compelling lyrics and engaging composition using varied acoustic instrumentation styles. Aside from his insight into the environment on historical, political and spiritual levels, perhaps his most charming attribute is his commitment to follow through on his intentions with action.
For his In a Blink tour, Wildeman is embarking on his West-coast travel using a bicycle for transportation. This offers more than the usual gimmickry in an era where marketers have gone silly with greenwashing for promotion. Wildeman rises above and beyond the stereotype of fanatic that’s tagged to environmentalism. He will share the stage with warm-up artists Corinna Rose and Davis Dalgleish at Victoria’s Solstice Café on Sept. 13.
“Last spring I had the opportunity to cycle-tour the Oregon and Californian coast,” he writes on his website. “During my travels, life unfolded at a noticeably slower pace. Your physical capacity and endurance dictate the speed and distance traveled each day.”
“When traveling by bike, one observes the subtle elements of everyday life and our planet with increased perception, awakening new awareness and appreciation. The smell of fresh rain, the howl of the wind, the sound of hail bouncing off the pavement, the roadside wildlife, birds singing [and] crashing waves. It is a totally different sensory experience.”
Wildeman’s succinct lyrics are partly drawn with historical imagery to articulate his ideas. It’s a modest message overall, delivered with verve and conviction that deserves to be heard. He seasons his prose with a clever dash or two of alliteration (as in, “Bison drank from a babbling brook”) to challenge the listener. These poignant portraits reveal snapshots of western Canadian imagery. Lauren Harris and Emily Carr may have loved such a search for an environmental mythology.
Cliché also draws you into Wildeman’s political themes, just by sheer familiarity. Phrases with established connotation are used in the song “Our Fathers” to arouse the spiritual muse as much as the landscape. “Our fathers grew up together/Sad yet funny how the time flies/Birds of a feather, oh how they flock together/And our fathers flew high.” Wildeman thoughtfully seeks out the history of formative family vulnerability, moving it into the present tense.
Enter Wildeman’s “Foreign Affairs.” Titled in the absurdist style of the anti-hero, the case for environmental history is brought home in this song in a series of observations on conflictions over oil. Like a mirage to the vision of a prophet in the heat of the desert, Wildeman invokes an image of sectarian division in his work to make his case for Mother Earth.
It’s too easy to say Wildeman doesn’t just talk the talk, or that he walks the walk. He embraces his own vulnerability while singing out with spirit. One would hope that his work does open up public discourse as we tread into the deeper water ahead.
Brett Wildeman with Corinna Rose and Davis Dalgleish
@ Solstice Café (529 Pandora Avenue)
Sept. 13, 7:30 p.m.