With a new generation of artists such as Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton bringing an artistic depth back to country music, it stands to reason that Canadians would be involved in that movement as well. Zachary Lucky has indeed been a part of that conversation for some time, and his new album Everywhere A Man Can Be (out Oct. 7 on Wroxton Records/Fontana North Distribution) is a further testament.
Following his highly personal previous album, The Ballad Of Losing You, Everywhere A Man Can Be finds Lucky looking outward, drawing from people and places he encountered while touring the world over the past several years. Sonically, the new record stays true to a classic Canadiana vibe, thanks to an all-star cast led by producer and pedal steel virtuoso Aaron Goldstein (Daniel Romano & The Trilliums).
The other players include Taylor Knox on drums, Dan Edmonds (Harlan Pepper) on piano, Darcy Yates (Flash Lightnin’, Bahamas) on bass, Rosalyn Dennett on fiddle, and her sometime duo partner Frank Evans on banjo. Toronto guitar hero Nichol Robertson, vocalist Julie Fader, and pianist Jay Swinnerton made additional guest contributions.
A native of Saskatoon, Lucky grew up with traditional country music in his blood; his grandfather, Smiling Johnny Lucky, was a Canadian country pioneer whose career spanned a half-century. Although Zachary played in rock bands during his teens, as he entered his twenties he began releasing a series of EPs displaying writing and performing skills far beyond his years. That groundwork culminated with his 2010 full-length debut, Come And Gone, and its 2012 follow-up, Saskatchewan, which firmly established Lucky on the national scene.
The Ballad Of Losing You drew further praise, including comparisons to Townes Van Zandt, but as he plotted Everywhere A Man Can Be, Lucky was keen to make a fresh start by following his musical instincts. The results are the purest expression of his art to date, and he’ll be taking it out on the road this fall, starting with the album launch show at Toronto’s Dakota Tavern on Friday, Oct. 7. For more tour date info, go here
What sets Everywhere A Man Can Be apart from your previous work?
With a lot of my previous records, the songs came very naturally. I wanted to make an effort with this record to be more intentional with my songwriting. A lot of the songs were small ideas that I worked on for months at a time. Around the time we were getting ready to record the album, I set a goal to write a song a week for a month and that really brought a lot of focus to my writing. I knew going into this record that I wanted to go about things differently, and acquired the production skill set of Aaron Goldstein. Up to this point in my career, I had never worked with a producer so that definitely played a role in how this record turned out. Aaron really brought a lot to the table, from helping me fine-tune the songs to bringing together the band. He helped bring things to a whole new sonic level.
What song on the new record do you feel best captures the overall musical vision you had going into making it?
There are a handful of songs—and by handful, I mean all—that I love. Each one has something different to say, and different things that I love about them, but I think the song that captured what I wanted the most is the title track, “Everywhere A Man Can Be.” I wanted to make a record that had elements of folk and country music, but also had a loose, almost psychedelic vibe to it. I wanted to create something raw, and something a little bolder then my previous records, and I feel like this song really captured all of those things.
What has been the biggest change in your life over the past year?
There have been many, but the one that seems to be dictating and impacting the other parts of my life the most is the fact that I’ve become a father. I’m not even sure where to begin with how it’s changed everything, but it’s definitely made me more focused in terms of touring and songwriting. It’s made me want to take this music thing a little more seriously. I feel like it’s all on the line these days, and that every chord matters.
What song in your catalogue means the most to you and why?
The song that really seems to stick with me and with my audiences around the country, and the Prairies specifically, is “Saskatchewan.” It’s really a ballad about missing a time and a place, or perhaps a person. To me, that song was a letter to my Saskatchewan; it was about being stuck somewhere when you wish you could be somewhere else. I’m always blown away by how far that song has gone, from the cover that Belle Plain and Blake Berglund did of it to how often I get requests for it at shows. It’s definitely been good to me so far.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written?
A song that has really stuck with me since I first started getting into folk music and started writing songs, is one called “Remember The Mountain Bed.” Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics and the music was put together by Billy Bragg and Wilco for their record Mermaid Avenue Vol. 2. There are so many feelings crammed into this song. It’s happy, sad, nostalgic, heartbreaking, pretty much the human condition, and I can’t help but feel all of those emotions whenever I hear it.