age of 23, acclaimed singer and songwriter Roy Forbes is still going strong, taking the stage at the Charlie White Theatre next Saturday (March 14) to promote his latest album Strikin’ Matches, his first live collection.
“I’ve always wanted to do a live album,” he says. “I always feel that people who hear my records don’t get what it’s like to see me live.”
For some time, Forbes says he had been toying with the idea of doing a retrospective album, using favourite tracks and unreleased songs, and he especially wanted to get a recording of Love Turns to Ice down, a song he’d never been happy with.
And after three years of recording live shows, Forbes finally said “this is enough,” and began working with sound engineer Dave Meszaros to put it all together.
The result was magical.
Some live albums are limited to the sound system, with the chatter and rustling of the audience just extra noise overlaying the music. But Forbes’ Strikin’ Matches makes the listener feel like they’re in the room. Close your eyes for Saskatoon Moon, and you’ll feel like you’re surrounded by the audience as they start to croon along and take their own chorus.
That particular recording of Saskatoon Moon is close to his heart, he adds. He performed it at the Rolla Hall just outside Dawson Creek, where he grew up, for the town’s 100th anniversary in 2012.
“It was really like being deep home, deep roots,” he says. “The reason the voices sound so nice on that track is because all my sisters were in the audience, and my friends and relatives.”
“There’s a special meaning to that performance for me.”
Forbes’ brilliant guitar work curls out of the speakers, surrounding you with notes at once bluesy and toe-tappingly upbeat. Put on the album’s title track and just try to keep your body from boogieing along.
Strikin’ Matches’ infectious energy has a lot to do with that intimate sound that brings the songs out of the stereo and into the room. A feat Forbes is quick to attribute to his friend and colleague Meszaros.
“Dave … recorded a lot of it, and we mixed it together,” says Forbes, then pauses. “Well, he mixed it and I hummed and hawed. He really deserves the credit for the sound of it.”
It helped that the whole project seemed blessed from the outset. Fantastic takes of old favourites at a handful of Forbes’ live shows, excellent recording quality, and smooth sailing even in production.
“Even the sequencing,” Forbes says. “I usually tear my hair out, but it sort of sequenced itself.”
And despite Forbes’ self-professed tendencies to be overly critical of himself, he was able to find a balance between performing the best version of a song and capturing the feeling of a live show.
“You have to have the spirit of music, and that back and forth between the performer and the audience,” he says. “I cleaned a few things up, but at the same time I wasn’t looking for absolute perfection.”
The intimate setting and excellent acoustics of the Charlie White make it a prime location to showcase the feel of the album, though audience goers should expect some favourites from throughout the “Roy years” that aren’t on the record as well.
“It’ll feature the album, for sure, and we’ll just see what else happens,” he says with a laugh.
The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Charlie White Theatre at the Mary Winspear Centre, 2243 Beacon Ave. in Sidney. Tickets are $31.50 and are available at the box office, at marywinspear.ca or by calling 250-656-0275.
For more, visit royforbes.ca.