Jeffery Straker Does Double Duty With Two New Tracks

The Regina folk artist gets personal on a pair of previews from his upcoming album.

Jeffery Straker proves that two songs are better than one by releasing a pair of new singles — More Than Two By Fours And Timber & Sing Your Song — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

With modernization and urbanization comes big changes — and inevitable sadness and nostalgia. Regina folk artist Straker captures a loss of rural identity in More Than Two By Fours And Timber, as he describes a grain elevator being bulldozed in a small farming town:

“It was so much more than two by fours and timber
That last grain elevator was comin’ down today
Under their breath people said goodbye
They tried their best to take it all in stride
They just got used to doin’ it that way.”

Tinged with sunny sadness and harmonica-laced introspection, the song tells the story of how the town near the grain elevator has also been in decline, and how some of the old buildings are boarded up and the church is no longer in use. The townspeople gather to watch the grain elevator coming down and, in witnessing its fall, a part of ‘them’ and their collective rural identity inevitably crumbles away, too.

The song comes from a very personal place in Straker’s history. “I’m a child of the Canadian prairies, having grown up on a grain farm in Saskatchewan doing all the farm things like cleaning the barn and helping with harvest,” he says. And while not everyone shares Straker’s upbringing, the song’s wistfulness for simpler times and for what’s increasingly becoming a bygone era struck a chord with fans. “The first time I sang this song at a show, I had so many people ask me afterwards if they could get it on an album or find it online — but I was just trying it out. It’s great when a song gets a reaction like that.”

As Straker was recording More Than Two By Fours And Timber in a Nashville studio with producer Steve Dawson, Fats Kaplin came in and added a brilliant harmonica part. “It adds a melancholy character to the tune that really suits the song,” he says.

Straker us even more emotionally vulnerable on his mellow, piano-studded second single Sing Your Song, about finding strength in letting down one’s guard. Co-written with Canadian folk icon Lynn Miles, the song is about when Straker took a leap several years ago and came out as gay. It’s also, equally, about when he quit his job to pursue a music career.

“It’s hard to say which one was tougher,” Straker reflects. “I thought that music would be a hobby and that I should really pursue a more typical career. I didn’t think I had the chops to make a go of it in the classical world, and the idea of being a touring singer-songwriter seemed pretty outrageous at the time, like traveling with the circus. And everyone around me was saying things like, ‘Stick with the security of the real job.’ ”

“I learned it’s OK to not quite belong
That letting down your guard is how to be strong
I was so afraid of getting it wrong
Even if you think your voice ain’t the best
That’s OK it’s yours go right ahead and sing your song.”

Straker grew up taking piano lessons in small-town Saskatchewan and has gone on to perform more than 100 shows per year across Canada, Europe, and Latin America. The rootsy storytelling of his songs has the power to transport a listener out onto a lake in Canada’s North or to the main street of a prairie town. A clever lyricist with an energetic approach to the piano, his songwriting has drawn comparison to Harry Chapin, Kris Kristofferson and Murray McLauchlan, while maintaining a style distinctly his own.

He has seen his songs used in film, TV and theatrical productions. In 2019, he won a Western Canadian Music Award. Recently he was awarded Roots/Folk Artist of the Year at both the 2020 and 2021 Saskatchewan Music Awards and has seen the Saskatchewan Country Music Awards name him Keyboard Player of the Year three times running. Jeffery recently emerged from the studio with his latest recording Great Big Sky, which is due in June 2024.

Watch the videos for More Than Two By Fours And Timber and Sing Your Song above, listen to more from Jeffery Straker below, and spend some quality time on his website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Photo by Ali Lauren.