Brock Zeman & the Dirty Hands Welcome Home Ivy Jane

Brock Zeman & the Dirty Hands Welcome Home Ivy Jane
Where was this troubadour hiding? As someone well versed in this country’s roots scene, this was the first time I had heard of the Wakefield, QC-based song-slinger. Zeman, however, who combines the rich, deep-in-the-well vocals of Steve Earle with the poetic storytelling of Townes Van Zandt, is no newcomer. This is his fourth release in four years and another disc, recorded with Dan Walsh, is due soon. While he’s physically located in Canada, his soul resides with Texas tellers of song and their brethren. By exploring themes that mine a time and place far away, yet so near, that are at once dark, brooding reflections and life-affirming celebrations, Zeman paints vignettes that everyone can relate to. Produced by veteran country rocker Keith Glass (Prairie Oyster), Zeman gathered a band with all the chops to fill out the melodies of these 14 tracks and add a rich layer of instrumentation that complements his tear-stained tales. With the backing of Kitchener-Waterloo indie label Busted Flat, hopefully Zeman’s words and music will now get heard by more of the masses. This is a songwriter worth hearing over and over again.

Welcome Home Ivy Jane feels like the narrative for a classic Western. Do you feel you would have felt more comfortable in another era? I’ve been told that I should have been born either in Texas or 50 years ago. I’m influenced a lot by those old mountain ballads. I like the simplicity of the music and the dark brooding element of the lyrics. I also listen to a lot of Morricone from all the spaghetti westerns.

What is it about train travel that inspires so many songwriters? I think everybody has a thing for trains. Steel, coal, steam, the sound of the whistle, hobos, etc., there’s just so much raw material to work with and everyone in the world can relate. Plus, it’s just way cooler to have a train in a song than an airplane, apologies to John Denver, but it just is.

I understand you’ve already recorded another album’s worth of songs. Dan Walsh and I were doing a little tour and had a couple days off so we went back to his place and started recording. We got about five songs in before we realised we had something. We recorded around 20 songs and kept 12. It’s going to be a stripped-down record [with] a little dobro and lead guitar here and there to add some colour, and some back-up vocals but overall, [it’ll be] very sparse. The album is called The Bourbon Sessions and will be out in late February in time for our Canadian Tour. (Busted Flat)