With an open guitar case and heart, Edmonton singer-songwriter Ken Stead started by played to commuters and computers at the airport, saving up every coin and bit of good will he earned to fund his debut record Fear Has No Place Here. Now, following the release of that album, Stead is enjoying the launch of his sophomore album Civil War in March 2019.
Ken Stead already has a firm foothold in the Canadian roots community, having graced the grassy stages and sessions of Edmonton Folk Fest, Canmore Folk Fest, and North Country Fair, as well as rowdier venues like Main Stage Big Valley Jamboree, the Calgary Stampede Coke Stage and Wild Mountain Festival. Whether playing solo, or with his 5 piece band, Ken Stead makes every room feel like home. A generous demeanor, a delicate wit, and an empathetic understanding of audiences of all shapes, his performances are as true and honest as the songs themselves.
Ken is known for silencing a room to a whisper, but with his new release, Civil War, he proves capable of starting an uproar. With more volume, comes more space to make heartfelt moments rattle through your chest. Guitars, bass and drums punctuate charged lyricism and lived experience. It’s full and dynamic roots rock, with an emphasis on connecting with an audience, born from Stead’s keen musical interest in both folk and hip hop.
Produced by Winston Hauschild (Hannah Georgas, Hey Ocean), and mixed by Canadian legend Howie Beck (Barenaked Ladies, Feist, Walk Off The Earth), Civil War is an earnest portrait of the domestic, the conflicts present in the everyday, and how one’s struggle with themselves and their own faults bleed into their relationships with others, how that mirrors the larger political climate. Throughout the record, Stead grapples with his firm belief that peace begins with the individual. “Trouble” is a song that combines roots rock with 80’s synth danceability. With the grit and strength in Ken’s voice, he captures the moment you realize you’re in some sort of trouble, but knowing that trouble is exactly what you’re looking for. Tracks like “I’m Done Trying” are strong and self-critical, pining to understand the other with empathy and the earned conviction of its power-chords. “Why You Afraid Of The Dark” is a roots/soul song tackling the fear of facing the hard times with soulful piano, groovy rhythms, and a hook that will having you singing along.
Civil War is about bridging binaries and breaking barriers, both political and emotional, race and gender, husband and wife. Big and beautiful music that doesn’t need to polarize to speak strongly and directly. The new sound that Ken has brought to the album will be sure break into new markets for him and bring him to stages across the world.