Though perhaps technically a singer-songwriter, Ian Fitzgerald prefers the term 'folk singer,' as it more accurately describes the tradition in which Ian's music is rooted. From early twentieth century field recordings through Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Gillian Welch, and hundreds of artists in between, Ian has been influenced by one of the sturdiest strains of American music.
Ian has been performing since 2004, and his schedule keeps getting busier. He's performed at venues throughout the eastern U.S. and Canada, including the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival's Emerging Artist Showcase; Club Passim's Cutting Edge of the Campfire Festival; the Word X Word Festival; the In The Dead of Winter Festival; and the New England Americana Festival, among many others. In 2009, his song "Lillian" won the Boston Folk Festival Songwriting Contest and earned Ian a performance spot at the festival. And earlier this year, Ian opened for the great Tracy Grammer.
Since April of 2012, Ian has been joined in live performance by harmony vocalist Courtney Gallagher. In addition to developing harmony parts for several of Ian's newest works, Courtney has added her voice to a number of Ian's older songs.
Ian and Courtney perform at coffeehouses, clubs, concert halls and venues of all kinds both as openers and headliners. They can also be heard on Ian's brand new album, No Time To Be Tender.
Ian Fitzgerald - acoustic guitar, harmonica
No Time To Be Tender - LP, 2013
Empty Like The Lion Den - LP, 2009
Former Glory - LP, 2007
Torn Up Routes - LP, 2005
Missing Silver - LP, 2004
[+ Show ]
A trio of songwriting sets mark the night at Blue. That affair starts at 6 with the earnest acoustic...A trio of songwriting sets mark the night at Blue. That affair starts at 6 with the earnest acoustic folker JAMES DAY LEAVITT, whose songs, as first heard on the debut album recorded at Ron Harrity’s Forest City Studio, reflect delicately on his intimate life experiences. He’s followed by the New England-traveling Americana guitarist IAN FITZGERALD, whose Elvis Costello-tinted country-folk is anchored by his ability to turn a phrase. SAMUEL JAMES — who I hear really brought it in last week’s 48 Hour Music Festival — and DANA GROSS finish up the night with a set at 10 pm.
Former Glory (review)
[+ Show ]
Listen to most any song by North Attleboro native Ian Fitzgerald and the first thing to grab you mi... Listen to most any song by North Attleboro native Ian Fitzgerald and the first thing to grab you might be his sheer mastery of phonetics. Tightly rhymed syllables snake their way through verses to the point where unpacking the sounds in these phrases becomes a prerequisite for unpacking their latent meaning. Still, it’s a challenge well worth the effort: akll that lyrical density affords the songs a number of spins before they finally reveal their full meaning in sum.
At 24, Fitzgerald is a bona fide folkster, so the emphasis on lyrical content comes as no surprise. His songs have a twang to them, with his sound flashing the influence of both Dylan and alt-country rockers. Fitzgerald performs his live act solo, which is also unsurprising.
With lackadaisical guitar strumming and nonchalant singing, he manages to cut to the essence of his act--that is, the barebones presentation of his masterful songwriting. And though he has used band arrangements for his two studio albums---2005’s Torn Up Routes and this year’s Former Glory--the full sound never obstructs the central quality of the songs: the words, and their delivery through Fitzgerald’s stern, tight-mouthed drawl.
The songs on Former Glory are brimming with shining, dark images and unexpected metaphors, all enmeshed in Fitzgerald’s trademark phonetic maze. It would be enough for Fitzgerald to be a master at just one of these things--either the imagery or the trickster wordplay--but, lucky for us, he is equally adept at both.
For instance, try to wrap your vocal cords around this set of lyrics from "Concrete Mirror": "You curse worse than murder / your words works in circles / Stairs spiral in your eyes / and I’m spinning still." Fitzgerald is not the first songwriter to cram together "curse" and "worse", but rare is the singer who can execute a tongue-twister while keeping such a firm hold on the description he is conveying. And then there are the lines that introduce the album-starter, "Idle Hands," foreshadowing Former Glory’s theme of desperation, complemented by Fitzgerald’s knack for strange and unsettling imagery: "Things are getting ugly but at least we’re not alone / There’s money in the marrow if you’d only break your bones."
Despite his wonderfully abundant descriptions of things and places--gunsmoke, thievery and geography all make recurrent appearances on Former Glory--many of these songs, at their root, concern the central theme of the singer-songwriter: human relationships. Every few songs, we hear a casual remark about missing someone far away, or laying one’s head in another’s hands. It’s nearly impossible to piece together the ins and outs of the relationhship, but it’s probably for the best that we never do. These mere hints of love (or friendship) provide just enough grounding to allow the record to spin off into the unreal dream worlds of imagery that are the true strengths of Fitzgerald’s writing. And all the vagueness allows us to wonder to whom excatly Fitzgerald is referring in "The Ruins" when he sings: "They said they couldn’t see your face among the ancient ruins / But give me one more morning / And i can show it to them."
To be sure, there are a few songs on Former Glory that are just a bit too packed with words and instruments. "Emma Brown" sees Fitzgaerld spitting eight-note syllables while trying to keep up with a lilting mandolin accompaniment, and the chorus tempo always seems one step away from leaving the singer in the dust.
And had the nine-minute album-closer "Someone Else’s Secrets" been recorded as a solo piece, it would have been no less gripping. If anything, the presentation would have kept the distractions of the accompaniment at a minimum (like in his live act), and put the focus back on the songwriting itself. In the end, though, it really makes little difference: it’s the writing that carries Former Glory, and with songs this great, it’s nearly impossible not to notice
originally published 03.22.07
Ian Fitzgerald: A Bard & his ’Former Glory’
[+ Show ]
After taking three full passes at the new Ian Fitzgerald CD Former Glory, I came away with only one... After taking three full passes at the new Ian Fitzgerald CD Former Glory, I came away with only one certainty... I can’t quite put my finger on this guy. Is he laureate or jokerman? Genius or put-on? Rather than stopping at simply emulating Bob Dylan’s nasally vocally delivery, he also seems to carry on the poet’s tradition of confusing the over-inquisitive listener, who insists on asking who-what-where-why almost always in vain. What is not in doubt is Fitzgerald’s keen sense of wordplay, which is evident throughout the eleven tracks on Former Glory.
Much of the album’s lyrical content consists of doleful and dark imagery. "There’s money in the marrow if you’d only break your bones - Like in tales of ancient heroes who burned angels for their gasoline blood." This sardonic streak runs somewhat contradictory to Fitzgerald’s hilarious and often self-effacing biographical and web site content. He writes: "With zero critical acclaim and just as much audience interest...Former Glory feels like the wordiest recording since Johnny Cash released his audio book version of the New Testament." Now that’s hilarious. And, in many ways, reminiscent of a self deprecating streak artists like John Lennon or Bob Dylan would often show in just about every situation except their recordings. And like those two examples, he perhaps does so as an insecurity of sorts, possibly self-conscious of the truly imposing lyrics he’s assembled throughout. Then again, armchair psychology is way above my paygrade, so we move on...
Let us not lose site of Ian Fitzgerald’s strong suit - the songs. Granted, many of the arrangements are sometimes annoyingly derivative of Dylan circa ’72-’75. But at a mere 24 years old, it’s admirable that he clearly takes much inspiration from such a lofty artist. Some standout tracks include "The Thin Line at Midnight" which includes the lines: "Don Juan pawns off responsibility for his role in the death of courtly love." Now to go back and illustrate that humor mentioned earlier, Fitzgerald’s homepage includes the following Q&A entry:
Q: Why do you mention Courtney Love in one of your songs? A: Since none of my songs contain references to the Cobain widow and former Hole frontwoman, I can only assume you misheard the words..."
At the risk of repeating myself, THAT’S funny! However there’s little levity in the text that accompanies tracks like "Emma Brown": "Even the gentlest breeze can blow a body down - There’s a cabin in the valley where they buried Emma Brown... Napoleon and Josephine are setting wedding dates - For the citizens of prison camps whose love has been delayed."
As I’m often to say, it is only for lack of space that I don’t continue citing the great examples of young Ian Fitzgerald’s writings. I sincerely hope that as this budding artist begins to develop and find his own voice, he will treat us to many more releases, exploring avenues not even thought of on Former Glory. Frankly, we could use him.
Ian draws from all of his albums and peppers his set with new material. Sets are comprised predominantly of original material, with only the occasional cover.