Howard Gladstone
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Howard Gladstone

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"Howard Gladstone"

Marc Rheaume, CBC Radio
“Howard Gladstone used to write about music. Now he writes songs. More importantly, he pens the kind of topical tunes that were the province of singer/songwriters before navel-gazing became the norm. His music is a tribute to the great artists who inspired him.”

- Marc Rheaume, CBC Radio

"Roots and Rain"

"On Howard Gladstone's fourth album in eight years, at least judging by the tracks from Roots and Rain that I've heard.. I think this spiritual but often melancholy Folk and social justice balladeer has found a new groove and some fresh inspiration... His ballad "Tammy (The Wheels of Justice)" in support of a woman who was unjustly convicted of child murder based on the testimony of a discredited pathologist (included on the new disc) I found moving as a single released last year, as are other social justiced- themed tunes.... WIth an all-star band once again backing him on RAR (Tony Quarrington, Kevin Zarnett Shelley Coopersmith, Denis Keldie, Chris Robinson et all), and professional production, the new album sets a new bar for his music. Wed. Jan 13 he releases the disc (with some of those performers joining him and special guest Jon Brooks opening at 8:30) at Hugh's Room. Tix are just $14 in advance !."

- Toronto Moon Magazine

"Roots and Rain"

For me, music deals with emotions. A song should touch the heart and soul of the listener. When the music is over, you should be filled with very intense feelings. "Roots and Rain" from the Canadian songwriter Howard Gladstone does this all. Just like the three earlier CD's: "Sunflowers light the Room" (2002), "Candles on the River" (2005) and "The Breath in the Wind" (2007) this new CD excels in subtlety and relaxation. The singer-songwriter from Toronto is supported by his musical friends. But the basis and power remains in Gladstone's silky voice with acoustic guitar. The inspired songwriter considers music and lyrics of equal importance.
The subjects of loneliness, love, exotic places, the struggle against a difficult and unfair world are all dealt with in melancholy yet warm songs like "Tammy", "Sweet Lies", "Fall so Deep" and "Kauai Nights". The album is not packed with a multitude of instruments; the focus stays with the lovely experienced voice of Howard Gladstone. The atmosphere created by the musicians, Robin Pirson (percussion), Chris Robinson (saxophone and clarinet), Tony Quarrington (acoustic and electric guitars) strongly supports the dreamy character of the album. When I listen to this introspective singer-songwriter and the Americana style songs of "Roots and Rain" I am left with a very good feeling. I will never be bored by this beautiful CD.
(translated from the Dutch)
Read the original Dutch review

"Roots and Rain"

There’s nothing sweeter than a wonderfully raw voice that has a unique, laid-back, authentic and honest sound which only belongs to a singer whose music can really be felt by other people. From the minute that Howard Gladstone's blues-inspired voice flowed into my ears, followed by a stream of Canadian folk guitar picking, I was lost and found at the same time.
Roots and Rain is the fourth album released by Howard Gladstone and his band. This musical gift to the world, created in Toronto, consists of everyday instruments such as the guitar, the bass and drums, accented by an array of other sounds such as the mandolin, tabla, violin, accordian, saxophone and clarinet. Howard Gladstone balances thoughtful and passionate lyrics with calming, soulful and diverse tunes that compel you to take a deep breath, and simply take the time to enjoy some good music. Gladstone’s talent for combining antique, yet apparently eternal, themes and sounds, with lyrics about current realities facing this planet we call home invites the listener in; his lyrics speak of love, justice (lack thereof), an interesting past, a nostalgic present, and a hopeful future.

If you find yourself tired by a fast-paced lifestyle, I recommend this album to life your spirits and bring you back down to Earth. There is a lot of talent waiting to be embraced world-wide (especially here in Toronto) and here is a perfect example that must not be missed. – Samra Ann Cassar
- Radio York, CHRY, Toronto

"I'm enthralled !"

….I'm enthralled (with Candles on the River). The way Gladstone delivers lyrics; it's as if you are hearing him sculpt a song. Just like ice carvers at a winter festival, Gladstone shapes ordinary words into beautiful visions…
….songs of strength and courage….
.…lyrics (that) bite into the social conscience of humanity and touch us right in the heart…
….arrangements that really make the songs interesting

(complete review below)
Rambles, April 8, 2006 www.ramblesnet.
Howard Gladstone has a particular brand of folk music that's unlike most of what I'd call great music. Though his music is more complex than a lot of folk styles, his lyrics, his voice and the slow, flowing rhythm that is consistent all the way through the CD is basically a heart-warming melody. It's not quite as sweet as maple syrup -- more like the warm burst of a blueberry when you bite into the pancake. And no matter what your station, regardless of your fears, your failures, your hopes or awards, eating a warm blueberry pancake is a fine, large human experience.
Gladstone is a singer-songwriter whose soft voice often stirs things up unexpectedly when his lyrics bite into the social conscience of humanity and touch us right in the heart. That's the kind of style evident in Gladstone's second CD, Candles on the River. Although the lyrics have an edge, they aren't in your face. The edginess points toward humanity and caring, giving a voice to many troubled souls. While the CD plays, Gladstone's songs take you away from the loneliness of injustice because the loneliness disappears when shared. His understated voice and lyrics somehow produce songs of strength and courage.
I wasn't completely sold on Gladstone's first recording, Sunflowers Light the Room; while I appreciated the lyrics, I wasn't in tune with the style. Now, with Candles on the River, I'm enthralled. The way Gladstone delivers lyrics, it's as if you are hearing him sculpt a song. Just like ice carvers at a winter festival, Gladstone shapes ordinary words into beautiful visions. And he inserts pauses that add to the delight, to the image, to the mood and to let you savour the whole thing.
Guitar by Gladstone, and lots of help from fine musicians such as Tony Quarrington, make for arrangements that really make the songs interesting. My favorite is "Down to the Delta," with a bit of blues going on. It satisfied. "Fishing by the Book" and "Candles on the River" have smart arrangements, but the whole CD is a statement crafted by Gladstone, in the Gladstone style, and I like it very much.
by Virginia MacIsaac
8 April 2006
- Virginia MacIsaac/ Rambles

""Candles" CD Release November 28, 2004"

Tonight I have just returned from the CD release of his new CD "Candles On the River..... a continuation of some personal and topical lyrics enmeshed in some beautiful melodies with arrangements that satisfied. ...

Howard and the boys played two sets, delivering all the new songs and a selection of some from the "Sunflowers" (first) CD. What I heard was a maturation of his style in some songs. Particularly noteworthy are "Prisoner of New Orleans", "Damaged Angel", "Candles on the River" and "Photograph". These songs deal with personal loss, tragedy, serenity and memories respectively. They are atmospheric and are played with arrangements that put you into New Orleans or on the banks of the Ganges.

... Howard Gladstone, with the help of some stellar musicians, has produced a worthy CD of personal reflections and topical songs.
- Jerry Tenenbaum - The Band Website

""Sunflowers Light The Room" Review- Toronto Star"

Echoes of artsy 1970s psychedelic folk rock, outlaw country, Moorish modes and Dead-edged jazz pop infuse this local songwriter's unpolished but fascinating debut with loads of retro appeal, down to his deadpan, slightly off-key Cohenesque delivery......

....If you heard this music in a crowded room, you'd suspect it was a lost gem from another time.
- Greg Quill
- Greg Quill, Toronto Star

"Performance Review - Ottawa"

I enjoyed the gig. You have a good stage presence. And the interaction between you and Tony (Quarrington) was marvelous. Thank you

- Dean Verger, Owner, Rasputin's Folk Cafe, Ottawa

""Sunflowers" Review - Canadian Musician"

Howard Gladstone has crafted the most melodic album I have ever heard.....

He uses an impressive array of collaborators ...

Howard's soft, half-spoken lyrics sometimes reminded me of Lou Reed if the Velvet Underground had gone commercial and the rhythm guitar occasionally reminds
me of the Grateful Dead in rehab(without narcotic creativity).

.....groovy, blues based music
that's really mellow.

SeaHen. June 2003 - Sea Hen

""Sunflowers" CD Review - Sweet Sweet Words"

Sweet, sweet words that bring thoughts of love and sunshine and gladness into the space that surrounds the music .....

I was impressed by the rhythm in his lyrics, a perfect balance of words, innovative expression and clarity of thought that takes one off to new places. He has a lot of solid material that's wide open to various musical nterpretations ....the folk style of these songs is not the beginning and the end of where Gladstone's compositions can be appreciated.

.... many of these songs should be out there where more people can find them and appreciate them. Gladstone really has something here and I hope he'll share it with others to extend the pleasure of such beautiful music to other recording styles.

"Sunflowers Light the Room," (has) a spiritual tone, an awakening
...."Silver-Handled Dagger" is a slightly bluesy ballad with a working-on-a chain-gang sound...

This CD is definitely folk, but it sweeps across the cobblestones of so many other possible avenues. Perhaps "Howard Gladstone" is a style; listen and you can decide for yourself. I liked this CD, but it took me while to figure out why I liked it. Because of the lyrics.
- Rambles / Virginia MacIsaac
29 March 2003
- Virgina MacIsaac / Ramgles

""Sunflowers" CD Review"

Howard Gladstone's new CD offering, Sunflowers Light The Room, has everything to do with the capturing of moments.

It also encourages the listener to glean new and illusive truths from those simple moments that, when linked together, often have a way of defining our lives here on Planet Earth.

Make no mistake, Gladstone demands participation from his audience.
In lines like:
"Feel and sense their living breath, in the sunlight and in the death
Between the lightning and the thunder's gloom, sunflowers light the room"
we are reminded that essential resilient truths exist amongst the sometimes more obvious moments of confusion and circumstance.

Gladstone also appears keenly aware of the blur between essence and circumstance. On this CD he weaves together 14 cuts which not only capture moments of passionate core humanity, but also suggest a sense of continuum and flow to this journey of discovery.

Produced by virtuoso guitarist Tony Quarrington, and featuring an all-star cast of musical friends, Sunflowers Light The Room sounds alternately as dark and richly textured as a Leonard Cohen offering, and at other times, as light and lilting as a trip back to Simon and Garfunkle's "Scarborough Fair."

Having had the pleasure of seeing Howard Gladstone perform in a solo live situation several times, I can only extend further kudos to Quarrington for his production which deftly emphasizes the strengths of these songs without making the material and the artist like something they are not.

This CD is, in the end, a generous and heartfelt invitation to join a sincere, insightful artist on an uncompromising journey of passage and revelation. It's all about the moments that heal, and unite, and help to fuel the light.

Norm Hacking
December 2002

- Norm Hacking


"Roots and Rain" (2010)
"The Breath In The Wind (2007)
"Candles On the River" (2005)
"Sunflowers Light The Room" (2002)



…" .I'm enthralled ... The way Gladstone delivers lyrics; it's as if you are hearing him sculpt a song. Just like ice carvers at a winter festival, Gladstone shapes ordinary words into beautiful visions… these are songs of strength and courage…with .…lyrics (that) bite into the social conscience of humanity and touch us right in the heart…Virginia MacIsaac

Howard Gladstone has independently released four well-received albums of original music - "Sunflowers Light The Room" (2002) , "Candles On The River" (2005), and "The Breath In The Wind" (2007) featuring Howard in a stripped-back trio format. The latest album "Roots and Rain" was released in January 2010 at Toronto's premier folk club, Hugh's Room, and has received national airplay on campus radio and CBC.

Gladstone’s songs are populated with vivid characters, diverse themes , powerful images, and set in varied locales around North America and the world. The music is melodic and diverse, featuring varied musical styles – ballads, blues, folk, pop with a touch of country and jazz, carefully crafted with meaningful lyrics, and presented with a fitting laid-back vocal style and strong acoustic guitar playing.
Gladstone sometimes approaches his subject matter as a seasoned journalist would: with an eye for detail, a sense of story and a desire for objectivity. He sticks to the facts, tells it like it is and maintains a measured and slightly detached quality in his vocal delivery. Other times, a more lyrical and poetic side emerges.

Howard is a convincing solo performer. He also appears on a regular basis with guitarist Tony Quarrington who helps explore and claim additional musical territory. With Kevin Zarnett on bass, Robin Pirson on drums, and Shelley Coopersmith on violin the ensemble is completed.

Gladstone’s observations and concerns are deeply etched in his songs, ranging from the plight of First Nations (“Aboriginal Burial Ground”), to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (“Damaged Angel”) to the closing of Canadian Maritime fisheries (“Fishin’ by the Book”), to globalization and corporate indifference (“Goin’ Offshore”). “ Down to the Delta” surveys the history of the blues and wonders where that music is going. His piercing social commentary on the Ontario justice system in the song "Tammy (The Wheels of Justice)" is based on the true story Tammy Marquadt, a wrongfully convicted mother who served 15 years for a crime she did not commit. "Loon on the Lake" is a meditation based on the rugged Canadian landscape, and surviving in a harsh world where it is essential to "find your song" like the loon.

Other songs reflect on love, loss, and the vagaries of life. “Prisoner of New Orleans” and “Photograph” are atmospheric, moody songs with an air of mystery. “Candles on the River” takes its inspiration and rhythm from a sunrise Gladstone observed in India. His song "Sunflowers Light The Room" has been compared to "Changes" and "Here Comes The Sun."

Howard also organizes musical events, including the Toronto City Roots Festival (, at the historic Distillery District in Toronto.

A self-described romantic-realist, Howard Gladstone’s songs cover a lot of musical territory and themes. Gladstone gets around, and the songs reference locations as diverse as Paris’ Left Bank, Jerusalem, Georgia (USA, not USSR) , Delhi (Ontario), and the Good Old USA.

Virginia McIsaac wrote, “Howard Gladstone shapes ordinary words into beautiful visions… these are songs of strength and courage.. with lyrics (that) bite into the social conscience of humanity and touch us right in the heart …(and) arrangements that really make the songs interesting” in reference to Gladstone’s previous album. It serves as an apt description of all of Gladstone's music.

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