While Canada may have no shortage of folk singers, Ian Sherwood is looking to carve out a spot for himself.
The Halifax native, whose latest album Everywhere to Go was released in September, is on an international tour to promote the release. Having toured nearly continuously since 2009, Sherwood will next perform at Fredericton’s Charlotte Street Arts Centre on Nov. 22 — his 84th performance in 2014 alone.
Now with four albums under his belt, and having been named the Contemporary Singer of the Year at the 2013 Canadian Folk Music Awards, this new album was an opportunity for Sherwood to start fresh.
“The focus has been more of a pop feel, and that’s not completely without design,” said Sherwood. “We wanted to have something that was very focused, because my previous albums have been kind of all over the place as far as styles. With this one, we said, ‘hey, this might actually sound like a complete album, rather than a bunch of weird songs tied together,’” explained Sherwood.
Having started out as a freelance saxophone player, Sherwood made the move to songwriting 10 years ago, which has been his focus ever since. A music fan since a young age, he cited classic folk rockers such as Tom Waits and James Taylor as being among his influences.
“They made a huge impact on me that I didn’t even realize until later,” he noted. “The songwriting I was doing was really influenced by what I had grown up hearing and taken note of.”
During the writing process for Everywhere to Go, Sherwood explained that a strict, self-imposed one-song-per-week deadline led him to find emotional inspiration in unlikely sources.
“The deadline was coming up, and I hadn’t written my song yet,” he said. “And then I started thinking about a guy in high school who didn’t really care too much about what the other kids thought of him. Now later on in life, I look back at that guy and think, wow, that guy really had it together, to be so confident in himself at a young age. I wish I was more like that.”
While Sherwood still dabbles occasionally in producing music for film, TV and theatre, playing live continues to be his passion. His recent performances in the UK, however, elicited a reaction he wasn’t prepared for. While as a guitar-playing singer/songwriter he was something of a novelty to British audiences, he found their reserved demeanor unsettling at first.
“The audiences [in the UK] are very different [in that] they’re very polite,” he explained. “The first couple of nights it was hard to get used to it because they’d sit there kind of stone-faced and watch the show, and I thought to myself, ‘These guys don’t get it at all, they’re not into this.’ But then they explode at the end of the show, and you realize the way they take in music and observe it is different from what we do here.”
While his sound may change from album to album, Sherwood said that he tries to stay true to his fundamental goals as a performer.
“I’ve always tried to tell a good story, to evoke a feeling of some kind,” he said. “And good storytelling is where I come from. You can keep my interest if you can spin a good yarn — it doesn’t have to be a true story, but it has to be interesting.”
Ian Sherwood will be performing at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre on Nov. 22, with tickets starting at $12.