Toronto-based singer-songwriter and fingerstyle guitarist Shawna Caspi hadn’t done much travelling before tapering off a series of administrative jobs to start touring full-time. She had never even rented a car. She had never been camping before performing at the Blue Skies Music Festival in 2014.
Since then, Shawna has toured throughout Canada and the United States, including performances at the Ottawa Grassroots Festival, the Shelter Valley Folk Festival, the Summerfolk Festival (ON), and the Deep Roots Music Festival (NS), and concert series including the Calgary Folk Club, the Nickelodeon, the Northern Lights Folk Club (AB), the Greenbank Folk Music Society (ON), the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse (MA), On Your Radar (NY), and Six String Concerts (OH).
Shawna’s fourth album Forest Fire, released in September 2017, is a collection of songs about burning things down and building them up again. Engineered and produced by Don Kerr (Rheostatics, Bahamas, Ron Sexsmith), the elegant arrangements draw the listener into the depths of haunting, atmospheric tracks, then lift them out with airy, bluegrass instrumentation and hopeful narratives for brighter days. It’s dark granite stone with a shot of glimmering quartz through the middle. When the words get heavy, they are held up to the light of love, grace, and gratitude. With these songs, Shawna strives to be unafraid, to embolden quieted voices, to tell the truth above all else.
“Some musicians make songwriting sound less of a craft and more of a life affirming obsession. Caspi’s compositions stand out as beautiful, complex and intricate even in an increasingly crowded folk scene.” – NOW Magazine
It’s an album about cycles, about playing the long game. That’s why it’s called Forest Fire – something that seems huge and devastating when it happens, but in the relative vastness of space and time, it’s just one small moment on a much grander scale, a necessary catastrophe that leads to new growth.
Shawna’s vocals are brewed by years of classical training followed by years on the road finding her own voice singing folk songs. She combines power, intensity, character, and closeness. She has a whole band under her fingertips, with a remarkable lyrical fingerpicking guitar style. Her performances capture audiences with grace and intimacy whether the setting is a living room, a festival stage, or the bar car of a passenger train.
“Shawna taps into her Canadian folk roots to share songs with beauty, humor and a keen eye for the world around her. Add to the fact that she is a classically trained guitarist with a stunning voice, and you have an artist that is destined to be an important artist on the folk circuit.” – Ron Olesko, Sing Out! Magazine
After taking one painting course in university, Shawna put away her brushes and bottles for the next seven years. But the overwhelming beauty of the landscapes she saw on tour was too much to keep to herself, whether it was coastal beaches, jagged canyons, endless prairie skies, charming fishing villages, tidy Midwestern farms, or the rugged pink rock of the Canadian Shield. She started painting again to share the visual landscapes of her travels, the places she was already weaving into her songs, and now creates one-of-a-kind works of art inspired by the rich scenery she sees on the road. She has sold over one hundred original works and continues to create more. Forest Fire features Shawna’s paintings on the front and back cover and throughout the album artwork design.
“Shawna’s songs have a way of making you feel at home, no matter where you are.” – Lynda Norman, Executive Director, Kelowna Arts Council