Independent artist Richard Garvey has a long history of making his own way. He’s finished two tours exclusively on his bike, independently produced seven albums and focuses his creative energy on issues surrounding the environment, social change and community building. Musically, he provides a breath of folk-based fresh air, following the likes of Pete Seeger and David Francey.
Garvey’s new album, Where Fools Gather, is no disappointment. His time as one of Kitchener’s hardest working folk/roots musicians has paid off, Where Fools Gather is as refreshing as a cool glass of sweet tea on a hot summer day.
Although the album itself works very well as a whole, there are a few stand-out tracks.
The title track, “Where Fools Gather” is a beautiful blend of Jack Johnson and the local Mike Erb Band; it has a whimsical sense of youth and love for the surrounding world. “Where Fools Gather” can be held as a metaphor for much of the album, Garvey’s music seems to have bottled up liquid sunshine from days off and injected it into his album.
Beyond the summertime happiness captured though his music, Garvey manages to find a broader purpose. Much of his music focuses around community and appreciating everything around us, from people to places and the natural world. His love for the world and everything on it is apparent in several tracks, such as “California,” “Speaks To Me,” and “I Deserve It.”
Garvey’s development from his past album is quite interesting. Although he still picks up on folk and roots influences, Where Fools Gather has lost some of the folk-like intensity. It’s lighter on the violin and banjo, with more choral and cello layers involved in production, especially in comparison to his 2012 album To Grow.
All in all, Garvey’s album is fresh, even when released in a community where most have encountered his tracks in their favourite watering hole. His focus on community and appreciating existence at large is energizing on its own. When mixed with his summery guitar and banjo combination, Where Fools Gather is a great summer release, made for backyard barbecue parties, warm weather exploring and appreciating those around us.