I must have seen a thousand one-sheets (that's a promotional sheet for radio people and music writers) claiming that this might well be "the best album by (insert artist name here) yet." Thing is, this one isn't hype. This is the best thing I have ever heard from Shari Ulrich, and I've heard a lot.
Here's the story behind Everywhere I Go. Shari has this daughter named Julia Graff, see, who is studying at McGill University in Montreal and comes home and says, hey. Mom, how about I produce and engineer an album by you for my Masters in Sound Recording project. We start in a month.
I'm sure Mom was stunned. An album's worth of songs in a month? Easy enough. But good songs? Not easy at all. I'm sure she had a backlog of songs in her portfolio, but most of the time they are in a portfolio and not on an album for a reason. I'm sure she found one or two ready for inclusion. But I am also sure that she worked like hell to ready the rest. Nine, total. She also borrowed one from a dude name Zac Doeding. Only then were they ready.
They headed to McGill's Schulich School of Music to record, Graff engineering and producing, Mom co-producing and performing. It had to be a dream. If it wasn't, it was when the album was finished. This is the album I have been awaiting since I first heard Shari Ulrich back in the 80s.
She was then with The Hometown Band, a consortium of British Columbia musicians cranking out rock and folk rock which had the Pac Northwest buzzing. They were getting airplay at either Seattle's KZAM or KEZX of the Ulrich-penned Feel Good, an upper of a tune which caught my ear and made me want to dance. I liked it so much I tracked down a promo 45 for my collection. It sold fairly well in Seattle, thanks to the airplay, but not so much anywhere else in the States.
About five years later, along came Talk Around Town, a pretty decent solo album but which was ignored by radio and the press due to office politics at MCA (they called it a purge).
Then, silence. Not that Ulrich wasn't recording. It just wasn't getting to me. I heard about a joining at the hips of Ulrich, Chilliwack's Bill Henderson and Roy Forbes into a band known as UHF, but only heard about it. I don't believe anything was released under that name in the States, though I could be wrong.
Indeed, Shari Ulrich dropped off my radar about then and when the Internet came along, I checked in on her once in awhile through her website, but back then the Net was not what it is now and it was harder to follow musicians and their projects. So when Everywhere I Go showed up on the list, I grabbed it, if only for curiosity's sake.
I wasn't curious long. I received the CD just last week and popped it into my player and am happy to say that Shari Ulrich is back. All the way back. I owe her daughter a debt of gratitude, too. This is, as the PR person wrote, her best album yet. Those nine songs are, each and every one, written by a maybe more mature but also same Shari Ulrich from The Hometown Band. They are melodic and emotive and more than I could have expected. The tenth, the one written by that outsider Doeding, is a beauty too. This is a collection of semi-folk songs worth writing about and it's doing that. I look for albums like this just so I can let my mind take over and do the writing for me. My fingers are doing the thinking right now. They are dancing to the music, as it were. They are telling not only you but myself that this is good stuff. Beautiful production, great songs and superbly simple arrangements make it so. And the voice. I have missed that voice. Ulrich can still rock, but, man, when she sings from the heart, it is something to behold.
I always had a bit of a crush on Ulrich. In the past, her voice raised me up when I was down and carried me places I might never have gone without it. I am happy that this album is as good as it is. For myself. For Shari Ulrich and her daughter. After all, when the music is good, life is good. At least, in my small corner of the world.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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