For the past few years, Craig Cardiff has been passing around a Book of Truths during his shows and asking his fans to share something truthful in it — a story, a confession, a hope, a secret. The book gives fans a chance to write down something they might be too afraid to say out loud, and it gives Cardiff an opportunity to connect with the people who come to his shows.
Those entries aren’t always easy to read. The stories can be heartbreaking, and they can leave Cardiff wanting to do something, to find the person who wrote in his book and tell them to hold on for tomorrow, that things will be OK.
Cardiff’s most recent album, Love Is Louder (Than All This Noise) Part 1 & 2, has turned into a response to those stories. This double album, released November 19, 2013, offers 21 tracks that are connected by an underlying sense that there are better days to come.
“I didn’t realize it at first, but this collection of songs is just really to help people be OK and to let them know to just wait until tomorrow, stay here and push on through,” says Cardiff. “Every song has that kernel of hope and joy, even if it’s not apparent at first.”
The Arnprior, Ontario-based folk singer worked with producers Ben Leggett (Faraway Neighbours, Ben Hermann) and Andre Wahl (Hawksley Workman, Luke Doucet) to record an album that is quite different than anything Cardiff has released before. Love Is Louder (Than All This Noise) is one-part boisterous group sing-along, one-part gentle lullaby.
This is the same team that produced Floods and Fires, the album that earned Cardiff a nomination for a 2012 Juno Award for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Solo and a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination as 2012 Contemporary Singer of the Year. This time, Leggett and Wahl told Cardiff they wouldn’t let him make an album like the ones he’s made before.
Cardiff, Leggett and Wahl recorded Love Is Louder (Than All This Noise) primarily in Cardiff’s home studio in Arnprior — which he and Leggett built together during the recording of Floods and Fires — the Chalet Studio in Claremont, and the Schoolhouse studio built by Hawksley Workman outside Huntsville.
With a voice described as “warm, scratched, sad and sleepy,” Cardiff sings songs that expose the human condition, putting a magnifying glass to the clumsier and less proud moments. He can turn any setting into an intimate affair, infusing his music and lyrics with an uncompromising humanism.
Cardiff makes it a point to keep the relationship with his fans personal, inviting and accepting any opportunity to make his audience as much a part of the performance as he is.
Armed with an extensive catalogue of songs, his Book of Truths, sharp wit and soft voice, Cardiff is considered a pioneer in alternate venue touring, often appearing in churches, camps, prisons, basements, festivals, kitchens and even taking to the streets, bringing his fans with him. Over the years, he has played with and opened for artists such as Glen Phillips, Lucy Kaplansky, Dan Bern, Natalia Zukerman, Andy Stochansky, Sarah Harmer, Kathleen Edwards, Blue Rodeo, Gordon Downie (Tragically Hip), Hawksley Workman, Sarah Slean, Skydiggers, 54-40 and more.
When not performing, Cardiff often offers workshops at schools, camps, festivals and churches throughout North America. He is passionate about encouraging others to be more open and to try new things even if it means making mistakes, and in June 2011, he gave an address called Fear is the Cheapest Room in the House during the inaugural TEDxUWO at the University of Western Ontario.
What people are saying
“[Craig is] a songwriter who needs to be heard.”
– Canadian music icon Gordon Lightfoot
“In some ways, it’s too much of a good thing, but Cardiff can’t be faulted for going the extra mile for his audience. It’s what’s gotten him to this point, and is sure to carry him further with this effort that puts him solidly in the upper echelon of Canadian folk artists.”
– Jason Schneider, Exclaim!
“From the majestic loops of ‘The Very Last Night Of The End Of The World’ to the feel-good caress of ‘Safe Here,’ the cello-enhanced lullaby ‘Gate’ and a sprinkling of starting-over songs, it’s a gorgeous album that seems to find a balance between heartbreak and joy. Listening to Cardiff’s gentle, expressive voice, you can imagine that Paul Simon is whispering in one ear and Van Morrison in the other.”
– Lynn Saxberg, Ottawa Citizen
“There is a warm and inviting feeling to the end of the world. In Craig Cardiff’s Floods and Fires, the seemingly apocalyptic crises life throws at our solemn narrator are met with a measure of hope and the promise of shelter to wait out the storm … The result is a soothing swell of harmonies that never overwhelm the taut emotion carried through Cardiff’s soft, whispery voice.”
– Ellen Keeble, Calgary Sun
“What I’ve found to be the essential key in his songs is versatility between the tracks. It’s Craig’s soft demure in vocals that tells the story; the melody that keeps you hooked. When you finish listening to a track or one of his albums as a whole, listeners realize that they and Craig speak the same language. It’s that truth that keeps Craig’s fans hungry for his next release.”
– Care Humphries, Velvet Rope