Fans of independent Canadian music will likely recognize the name Shane Ghostkeeper from his namesake project GHOSTKEEPER, a band that has been responsible for some of the more thrilling music to emerge from Alberta during the last 15 years. But while his parent band trades in a highly unique, left-of-centre approach to indie rock, Shane Ghostkeeper’s new album, Songs For My People, is a deeply reverential tribute to the music he absorbed while growing up in the Northern Alberta Métis communities of Paddle Prairie, High Level, and Rocky Lane. Truly a family affair, it’s out now on Victory Pool Records and can be streamed here.
From the opening notes of the album, this notion rings true wholeheartedly; shades of classic boot stompin’ anthems shine through, offering glimmers of Waylon Jennings, Johnny Horton, and Conway Twitty; and the singer took a particular shred of influence from the “Bakersfield sound” scene, a strain of ’60s-era artists that infused traditional country & western songwriting with the electrified, then-new zing of rock & roll.
Presented “as a gift to my people, an exploration of the country & western and roots records they surrounded me with since childhood,” it wouldn’t truly be a Shane Ghostkeeper project without a few flashes of sonic risk-taking, with the latest single “Sunbeam” sporting a lightly psychedelic overcoat in tribute to Shane’s T. Rex and Led Zeppelin-loving Uncle Tucker.
“Sunbeam was written for my late Uncle Tucker and the family he left behind. I was unable to attend his funeral so I wrote this to express my condolences and support for my Aunty Lorraine and my cousins. Tucker was a huge force in the Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement community and beyond, and he was a fiercely dedicated father and husband.”
Further extending the concept of “family,” Shane recruited a close-knit crew of collaborators to help him bring this project to life. Producer extraordinaire Lorrie Matheson (Rae Spoon, Art Bergmann), who has been part of the Ghostkeeper world since day one, and bandmates in the main Ghostkeeper band: drummer Eric Hamelin (known for his work with JOYFULTALK and drumming on Alvvays’ smash hit “Archie, Marry Me”), bassist Ryan Bourne (Chad Van Gaalen), and guitarist and pedal steel player Wayne Garrett (Surf Kitties).