Chatham, Ontario-born singer-songwriter Sarah Hiltz is bringing her “The Calm Fury Tour” to Moose Jaw on Tuesday, October 4 at The Hive on Main Street.
The Chatham, Ontario-born singer-songwriter will bring her show to Moose Jaw on Tuesday, October 4 at The Hive on Main Street. Her friend, Rebekah Hawkerwill open and join her for a few songs during the main show.
Their combined show features two distinct and contrasting sets, full of captivating songs, humor, storytelling, and well-arranged moments of harmony and collaboration.
Hiltz’s work over the past decade has earned him a Songs from the Heart award from Folk Music Ontario (political category), opening slots for Canadian icons Gordon Lightfoot and Ron Hynes, a top 3 finish in the national music She’s The One, a Best Nomination for a folk album via the Toronto Independent Music Awards and an invitation to give a TEDx talk in 2014.
excited to play
“I’m really, really excited. This is my first tour since the fall of 2019…” Hiltz told the Moose Jaw Express. “I’m really excited to share these songs with people for the first time…because I haven’t played a lot of gigs.
“So I’m very happy to share this and I’m also excited to go on a trip with my boyfriend (Hawker),” laughed the folk musician. “I love this walk across Canada. And I think it’s a great time of year to do that.
Hiltz believes that songs aren’t truly finished until they’re performed for others. Although she can write lyrics for herself, the magic part is sharing this work with others. This is one of the reasons she has missed performing live for the past few years.
Hiltz began her research on the topic of anger during a residency at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity in March 2019.
The songs in this process focus on how anger is processed in the body, communicating with others, female anger and male response, how anger is used as energy, self-directed anger, justified anger, creativity and anger, spirituality and prayer. Various media, video sequences and texts from interviews with other musicians were also sources of inspiration.
Hiltz released “Calm Fury” on March 4, 2022, but she was in Alberta looking for a new project when the album was released. She returned to Toronto and began planning for the album’s official launch, but faced continued pandemic lockdowns and restrictions.
“I’m self-directed, so…I don’t have the ability to do it (plan tours) and have it canceled when I had other projects going on,” she said. “So I thought I better play it safe and wait a bit.”
Express an emotion
Hiltz named her album “Calm Fury” because, although anger is a volatile, high-intensity emotion, she wanted to learn new ways to express it constructively. Sometimes people get angry about unimportant things, while sometimes they get angry for good reasons and should act on that emotion.
“But if it’s expressed in a way that’s destructive to others and relationships, then that…leads to more problems,” she said. “That’s what I was discovering with myself, because I’m the kind of person who suppresses the anger in my life. So when I realized that about myself, I wanted to try to learn how to express it.
“It kind of went really badly,” Hiltz continued with a laugh, “because I learned that in my life growing up. And I didn’t like the person I was. That’s what who initiated this project… .
“So ‘Calm Fury’ is the idea of being able to contain the emotion of anger without letting it overtake you.”
big creative step
Hiltz is happy with the 11 songs she wrote and thinks the album is the best she has created. She teamed up with a Montreal producer to create the album, while she worked with great musicians to create the songs.
“I feel like this is definitely a big step up for me creatively,” she said.
Hiltz had never done a thematic “deep dive” on her previous albums, but relished the opportunity because she could pursue a subject wholeheartedly. She liked to compile the data she had acquired and turn it into music.
“If you listen to the songs on the album, most of them don’t sound like their angry songs. They tell stories and express heartfelt emotional situations,” she said. “There’s a heartfelt ballad straight out of a musical that tells the story of one of my neighbors….
“But if people want to dive deeper with me, then that’s it for them to go below the surface.”
Hiltz may be promoting her new album, but she’s already working on the theme for her next album. This job last winter brought unexpected life changes that created a season of uncertainty and made her feel uneasy.
The most recent theme, “The Exit Interview”, explores the idea of ”liminality”, akin to being in limbo or between two periods of life. Hiltz linked it to winter farming practices in Canada, a liminal period when crops don’t grow and growers wait for the return of good weather.
“And there’s nothing you can do. You’re just stuck waiting in uncertainty,” she chuckled. “And obviously we know from the season that winter is finally over.”
Visiting Alberta farms showed the folk musician that farmers accept uncertainty, while she likes to be in control and know all the details in advance.
“I conceived of this project before the pandemic, but I feel like now the idea of trying to learn how to deal with uncertainty better is something that we could all probably use…”, Hiltz added. “I’m in the middle of that search right now.”