Craig Cardiff has gotten far by being open.
The singer-songwriter from Arnprior, Ont., is known as an advocate for alternate touring, and that has come from opening himself up to the possibilities around him — by asking people where they want to see him play and then saying yes. This has taken the Juno-nominated singer with the soft voice to the top of boathouse and to churches, backyards, living rooms and camps all across Canada.
Cardiff’s willingness to open himself up has helped him nurture close relationships with his fans throughout his 15-year career, and those fans have opened up their homes to him, and they helped him finish his latest album, Floods and Fires, by pre-ordering the album when Cardiff didn’t have enough money to complete the project.
Being open — and the letting go of fear that comes with opening yourself up — is a theme that runs through Floods and Fires — not only in the songs themselves, but also in the making of the album.
Cardiff was open to giving his songs more time than he has in the past and taking a different approach to recording this album. And it’s paying off.
Cardiff was recently nominated for the Canadian Folk Music Awards’ 2012 Contemporary Singer of the Year Award for Floods and Fires, and the album was also recognized with a Juno Award nomination as Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Solo this past winter.
For Floods and Fires, Cardiff and producer/engineer Ben Leggett of North Bay, Ont., spent 18 months working together to record the album in Cardiff’s home studio in Arnprior. This was the longest period of time Cardiff spent on any of his releases, which are often recorded live or off the floor.
“I wanted to take the time these songs deserved and not rush them,” he says.
The title Floods and Fires alludes to Biblical plagues which bring both destruction and opportunity. The album’s 14 tracks examine love and love’s leaving, celebrate parenthood and, ultimately, explore the balance between heartbreak and joy.
“The songs on this album were crafted during a difficult period of my life,” says Cardiff. “When hard things happened, I kept reminding myself to choose joy instead of choosing to be afraid and closing up. That’s what I kept coming back to — fear rents the cheapest room in the house. I didn’t want to live like that anymore.”
The news about the Canadian Folk Music Awards nomination comes just weeks after Cardiff’s work was featured in the soundtrack for an independent Canadian film that won the Audience Choice Best Feature award at the Cinefest Sudbury International Film Festival.
Cardiff teamed up with Leggett once again to work on the soundtrack for the indie film In Return, and the film features music by Cardiff and Ontario bands The Famly and The Faraway Neighbours.
“It’s a dark romantic comedy,” says Cardiff. “Ben and I composed both existing songs from Floods and Fires and also the ambient soundtrack. It was a lot more fun than an album was because it was kind of freeing to be able to support someone else’s idea rather than nibble your fingernails, always second-guessing. I’m proud of how it turned out and am looking forward to collaborating with Ben more on projects like this.”
Cardiff will perform songs from Floods and Fires and many of his previous releases on Nov. 15 at Joe’s Garage at 8 p.m.
Because of limitations set out in the rules for the special-occasion licence, tickets must be purchased in advance at Bop City Records in Courtenay. Tickets are limited.
This show is sponsored by the Society for Artistic Development Comox Valley, and a portion of the proceeds will go toward helping local artists develop their talent and fostering community spirit through the organization of performing arts events.
For more information about the show, call 250-702-6456.
— Joe’s Garage