The Folk Fusion Story of Daniel, Fred and Julie

By: V. Rachel Weldon

The Folk Fusion Story of Daniel, Fred and Julie
Photo: courtesy of the artist
Daniel, Fred and Julie

April 8, 2010 – Sackville, Canada

Julie Doiron sits in her car in Sackville, New Bruinswick. Her son is with her, and her daughters have just been dropped off at a friend's birthday party. Despite being in the midst of running around town, the sweetheart indie songstress pauses to do our phone interview. She apologizes often for porous sleep-deprived answers and explains that she woke up feeling under the weather that day after returning home from touring her own Juno-nominated album I Wonder What You Did With Your Day.

"Two weeks at the Olympics, a week in Japan, then a week in China," she lists off. But Doiron is only taking a mere breather to spend some time at home. This week she launches on the first tour with Daniel, Fred and Julie since the summer release of their self-titled collection of folk hymns and ditties. The album has nearly come seasonally full-circle without any stage time, but understandably, Doiron, her bandmate Fred Squire and Attack in Black's Dan Romano have been as busy as, well, touring musicians.

"In the summer I was touring Europe," Doiron tells SoundProof. "We were going to do a one month tour in the states, but then Dan booked an Attack in Black tour at the same time. So we're doing it now instead."

Starting in Fredericton, the three musicians make their way driving westward with stops in Charlottetown, Halifax, Ottawa and Toronto, only nine dates in all. Joining them is opening act Baby Eagle, vocalist and guitarist for Canadian indie darlings Constantines. The two acts together make a folk music showcase that is hard to catch, but not to be missed.

As for the Daniel, Fred and Julie album, it is not something to be overlooked either. The collection of ten gospel-tinged tunes is a near perfect take on traditional folk ballads. Eight of the ten tracks were old folk tales that Romano found in a storybook and, hopping on a train one day to Sackville, showed them to Squire with this project in mind. He and Squire wrote music to the old borrowed words, and Doiron, who was staying at Squire's house at the time, contributed her sweet-sounding harmonies. The remaining two tracks "Runner" and "Your Love" are original compositions by Romano, though hardly distinguishable from the well-worn anonymous ballads. 

Daniel, Fred and Julie sounds as if it was recorded during a depression-era town square revue or around a train yard campfire, when in reality the ten tracks were recorded in Squire's garage. "We set up one microphone and sat in a half circle around it. We opened the garage door so we were looking out into the street," Doiron recalls, which explains the ever-so-often "real" noises like kids riding bikes in the street or the excited shouts of Doiron's son. "Part of the reason we did it that way was to keep it real. It just felt right." The tracks were laid down and finished in just a few days with not a single edit or overdub adulterating those original recordings.

Finally these songs will have their proper showcase on stages across the East Coast and through Ontario. But with the whistle-stop recording job, it's difficult to know what to expect, for the audience and musicians alike. "I don't really know what to expect either," Doiron laughs, admitting that the three of them haven't rehearsed since the summertime. Doiron and Romano did, however, try the songs live once back in August while Squire was out of town. "It went really well, but we had to hold all the lyrics and stuff. Hopefully we can know all the songs by heart."

Even if the three musicians stumble over the words a bit, the music comes from a place close to their hearts, and will likely steal all of ours.

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