To Build a Fire' is an album of leaving and new beginnings- not because anything is so bad perhaps but because things can always be better. If there is a chance, you have to look. Cam had recently escaped the city to live in his new dwelling in the mountains with his sweetheart and new daughter- new start, new challenges. Ideas were trusted and built upon quickly, the unfamiliar was used as confidently as the familiar, pushing the conventions of what can still be called folk music back to where it should be- immediate and honest.
With verses still to be written and arrangements still unknown one mic was placed in the room then the stomping on floorboards. The opening words spilled into the microphone, "I've got to know that you'll make it through the night, make it through the day, that you'll make it out alive, that you'll always have water running down the mountain side, always have shelter, know to build a fire." Eight days in a cabin in the woods.
Cam Penner finds new textures and bolder sounds on his fifth release. The fractured rootsy persona still creeps in but this is not a depressing album. ‘To Build a Fire’ is full of hope. It's full of love. It's electrifying and provoking. It is a rallying call that reaches out, boldly and courageously into present-day existence. It's full of everything we should be looking for, not only musically, but in life.
The lush beauty of the opening brass track lures you in but leaves you wondering what is to come...then it begins. Ukuleles, guitars, banjos strummed. Floorboards stomped. Kick drums kicked. Feet stumbled. Thighs, knees, hands slapped and clapped. Voices strained and bent. Fingers gripped, grabbed and picked. Arms and hands flung. Body and sound thrown against wood and metal.
There are moments that will surprise and amaze even the most devoted Cam Penner fan. The symphony of sound and lyricism showcase the inevitable evolution of a growing artist; this album is a new start. ‘To Build a Fire’ speaks to the world. It’s folk. It’s rock n’ roll. It’s Cam Penner. Breathing fire into every note and lyric.
At eighteen Penner left small town life to wander the highways and back roads of North America. A year later he found himself in Chicago serving mystery soup and stale bread to two hundred and fifty homeless men a day. Next, a women & children's shelter, then youth shelters and detox centers.
For thirteen years he immersed himself in this subculture absorbing as much raw humanity as he could. When the shift was over he would spend endless cathartic hours writing and playing his guitar, exorcising his emotions through music. After becoming a self-taught expert on homelessness, he decided to become a full time touring artist, meanwhile becoming homeless himself.
Cam Penner has carved his own path. Music born from the soil and sin of this world.
Cam Penner's last album, WCMA Nominated "Gypsy Summer" debuted at number 16 on the FOLK BILLBOARD Charts. It was featured along with a full interview on NPR's 'All Music Considered' and toured the album through both Eastern & Western Canada, UK, Scotland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France.