With his newest CD, Quesnel musician and songwriter Brad Strang decided to make a themed CD for the first time.
Strang says Epic Journey, which will be released March 1, “celebrates our unique and significant lives, while exploring mankind’s potential through collective respect and unconditional love.”
Epic Journey features several guest artists, including singers Laurie Rathier of Quesnel, Jeanette McDonald of Quesnel, Laura Kelsey of Nanaimo, Dave Prentice of Williams Lake and Strang’s grandson, Gage Landrud, while Strang’s neighbour, Tony McDonald, plays bagpipe in “Amazing Grace.”
Strang says his eclectic style of folk crosses many genres, and he likes to keep the listener entertained by using a wide variety of instruments — sometimes within the same composition.
“I’ve had a lot of fun with this one — I used a lot of synthesized orchestration where I layered up a lot of different combinations for a full sound,” he said. “I play all the instruments other than the bagpipes on ‘Amazing Grace’ — my neighbour helped me out on that. And then I’ve got some great singers.”
Strang says he really enjoyed collaborating with other local artists, and he hopes to do even more in the future.
“I’ve approached the [River City Music Association (RCMA)] on doing a compilation CD some time, getting more people, but that’s still in the wings,” he said “The RCMA just does an excellent job of bringing all the musicians together. They are a very good group.”
Epic Journey features all original songs except the closing song, a short version of “Amazing Grace.”
“I start that song with my two favourite sounds in this world, and one is the geese flying overhead, and my neighbour Tony playing his bagpipes,” said Strang. “And then Jeannette McDonald just gives us a powerhouse finish on that.”
Some of the songs on this album are ones Strang wrote decades ago, and some were written for the theme.
“The song ‘For Our Children’ goes back 34 years when I wrote it, so I was really, really happy to re-make that because 35 years ago, I was doing it on, I think, a four-track cassette, so it was really nice to do it on what I’ve got here,” he said. “’Trip Around the Sun’ I did two or three years ago, and that’s probably one of my favourites. So that had to be included on a project like this because that’s basically what the whole entire project is about, us travelling together around the sun.”
Strang grew up on a raspberry farm in Yarrow, and he remembers that at a young age, he used to listen to records by Neil Young and Bob Dylan and the likes, and he was fascinated by how they structured and produced their songs.
At the age of 15, he bought his first guitar and started recording on primitive equipment.
“I’ve noticed over the years that music is like religion to me — sometimes I stray from it, but eventually, I always have to reconnect,” said Strang. “It’s who I am.”
Strang, who moved to Quesnel about 35 years ago, has been writing songs most of his life. He has released six CDs of his original music, and he co-produced two Songwriters of B.C. compilation albums.
“I’ve found it quite a fascinating hobby,” he said.
Epic Journey is Strang’s first themed CD.
“I have really loved working on a themed CD because it’s kind of kept you focused on getting one point across, just to sort of let one song set the mood and flow,” he said. “With this particular CD, Epic Journey, I allowed myself a lot of freedoms so I could have long intros, long outros, and just let the music flow from one song to the other. I really enjoyed that. I didn’t try to give myself time constraints for commercial music, and it was really a lot of fun doing this. In fact, I don’t think I’d go back to doing any other now.”
Epic Journey shares Strang’s message of togetherness and unconditional love.
“The theme just celebrates the significance of everybody’s individual lives, but it kind of celebrates the collective decision-making that we all do as a group,” he said. “The core of my lyrics probably stem from my belief system that we’re all one entity on Earth and that we need to work together with our decisions for going forward. I tend to try to write positive lyrics that celebrate who we are and to provoke thoughts on how we can all work together a little more through unconditional love. And that’s the basics of my lyrics through all of my CDs, I think — I’ve tried to keep that message in there.”
Physical copies of Epic Journey will be available at Quesnel Music and Bouchie Lake Country Store and can be ordered online through CD Baby, or you can purchase them from Strang for $20 through e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Brad Strang at 2241 Barker Rd., Quesnel, B.C., V2J 7B7. Digital copies are also available through CD Baby, iTunes and all other digital platforms, such as Spotify.
To view a short video about the making of Epic Journey, visit youtu.be/vQNH-quRLAw.
For more information about Strang, go to bluemountainrush.wixsite.com/brad-strang or search his videos on YouTube.