Amongst all the technology that is a necessity for many touring Artists from unique electric instruments to loops pedals, there’s still something magical about the simplicity of a cappella singing. One can forget that a single voice has the power to generate images in the minds of listeners.
One such musician at Edmonton Folk Music Festival this year is Matthew Byrne. In his opening Friday workshop, Byrne introduced himself to the audience by putting down his guitar and stepping forward to the microphone to offer a sad folk tale of a maiden who had a fleeting romance with a sailor. His voice had a strength that sounded like it was forged from many evenings sharing stories around a kitchen table in Newfoundland. There is an honesty in his tone that moves me to listen to tales of loss about characters I have never met although they feel real to me through his words.
There is something familiar when listening to folk melodies. They have such an ancient resilience about them after so many years of repetition. I can think of no better way than to deliver that message than through the vocal medium. Byrne is a refreshing reminder that there will always be a place for storytelling when there is a voice that urges ears to listen.