The Sound Cafe
A Conversation with Ken Yates
Douglas McLean chats with Ken Yates for his latest Sound Cafe Podcast, they chat about Ken's songwriting and his latest album 'Quiet Talkers'.
You can listen to the entire interview HERE
Quiet Talkers – Is the third release from London, Ontario born singer/songwriter Ken Yates.
Reuniting with Jim Bryson, who produced Yates’s 2016 release Huntsville, (which won two Canadian Folk Music Awards for Songwriter of the Year and New Artist of the Year), Quiet Talkers is a dark, introspective step away from acoustic, guitar-driven, folk songs, yet still maintains Yates’ signature guitar style and lyrics that never waste time getting to the point.
Says Yates, “This by far my most personal album to date. I’ve always been better at observing than being a part of the action, so I like to think of this collection of songs as “thoughts from the quietest person in the room”. If Huntsville was about his experiences on the road, Quiet Talkers is about coming home, facing the monsters hiding under the bed – or in some cases, the monsters hiding in plain sight.
In songs like Grey County Blues, Surviving Is Easy, and Safe From Yourself, Yates tackles the challenges of mental illness and how it can lead to complacency, singing “I couldn’t tell you why the seasons roll on by but I am frozen still. If I don’t know by now I don’t think I ever will”, while When We Came Home and Disillusion Day search for the light at the end of the tunnel only to find there is no end.
Yet amongst all this darkness there is plenty of light. In Two Wrongs, Yates sings about two imperfect people finding a balance in one another, and Evangeline speaks words of encouragement, saying “Life can be a gold mine, if you’ve got a good mind. Stay inside the right lines, but don’t keep it too clean, Evangeline”.
On working again with Jim Bryson, Yates says “I didn’t really want to make another folk record, so I wanted to let Jim take the reigns and work his indie-wizard magic on these songs. I love the arrangements he came up with”.
After almost a decade of extensive touring, supporting artists like Passenger, Stu Larsen, Rose Cousins and Jenn Grant, Yates is starting to find peace in his role as an independent artist. “Lately I’ve been able to take a step back and look at all the things I’ve been able to achieve almost purely on my own, and I’m starting to appreciate the small victories now”.