Corbett’s in good company

Singer-songwriter Kev Corbett plays in everyone’s band, but it’s his turn for the spotlight with the release of Son of a Rudderless Boat.

by Shannon Webb-Campbell

“My tunes are my way of processing,” says Kev Corbett. “I write audio songs. I work out the world by talking in my head. Music is my first language.”

As a natural storyteller, Corbett brings listeners on quite the journey with his narrative-driven songs. Despite having a soft release at the Lunenburg Folk Festival, he’s releasing Son of a Rudderless Boat at The Company House on January 16.

“A song is not finished until it is heard,” says Corbett, with his hand wrapped around a mug of tea at Just Us!. “I write about the things people don’t talk about but feel deeply—the sweet stuff of human experience. I don’t write break-up songs, I don’t write piss-up songs. There has to be some sort of silver lining.

“Proverbially I like to get to the nub of things. I write about some of the stereotypes of being Canadian.”

Whether he’s accompanying a band, in the role of leading man or hosting Sing For Your Supper, a songwriter’s circle Saturday afternoons at The Carleton, Corbett lives and breathes music. The odd time he’s not beneath the glow of the stage lights, he’s somewhere nearby listening keenly with his signature Cheshire cat grin and pint glass in hand.

“It’s almost mathematically impossible to be a songwriter now,” he says. “No one needs to buy a CD if they don’t want to. My job is just to show up every day and not obstruct my own progress.”

With splashes of blues, folk, reggae, bluegrass and jazz, Son of a Rudderless Boat runs the musical gamut. The toe-tapping opening track “That’s All Gone” features Old Man Luedecke on banjo and highlights life’s more sugary moments. “Cheese and Whiskey” might be an unlikely pairing, but it’s a true ode to love and comfort food. “The Driving Song” sorts through life on the road and the long stretches between home and away, while Christina Martin lends her vocals across the telephone wire. Meaghan Smith joins Corbett with her buttery voice on “Flowers In My Sidewalk,” a hopeful song despite life’s finite endings.

Many others lend their handclaps, musicianship and vocals, including Erin Costelo, Norma MacDonald, Jason Mingo, Thom Swift, Don Brownrigg, Fleur Mainville, Heather Cameron, Mike Aube and Steve Bowers.