When listening to the hauntingly beautiful melodies on Wherever I Go, the debut full-length album by Rose-Erin Stokes, you can’t help but be transfixed by every lilting note, every phrase and every plucked string. There is a quiet stillness to some songs, and within others one can sense an emotional tumult just rippling under the service.
What is undeniable is the deeply honest approach to her musical storytelling, a wide-open emotional tableau that is representative of the silence of the vast forests, and big open skies of the northern Ontario city of North Bay where Stokes was born and raised.
Highlighted by an artistic acumen and an amazing ability to evoke emotion, Wherever I Go is demonstrative of a songwriting craftsperson at work, with music, words and vocal performances that connect to the hearts and spirits of all who hear them.
Wherever I Go was produced by friend and Juno-nominated producer/engineer Ben Leggett in his home studio in North Bay. The two previously collaborated on Stokes’ debut EP in 2014, as well as on the first Hidden Roots Collective album, Come Up, Honey, which came out in 2016. That side project saw Stokes join musical forces with singer/songwriters Annie Sumi, Holly Cunningham and Brigitte Lebel – all of whom has strong North Bay connections. The album was nominated for a 2017 Canadian Folk Music Award.
Stokes has toured extensively as both a solo artist and with the Hidden Roots Collective, and was lauded with two nominations from the 2015 Northern Ontario Music and Film Awards, winning for Best Vocals on a recording for her EP.
Spending much of the past few years as an itinerant musician after her university days in Sudbury, Stokes said she has found herself more rooted in her northern Ontario home than ever before, and it’s reflected in the tone and tenor of her music. There is calm strength to both her music and her melodies, and a deft sensitivity throughout the compositions, arrangements and the recorded performances that is powerfully compelling.
With Wherever I Go, Stokes has demonstrated a dynamic range of emotional textures as an artist, from vulnerability, quiet hopefulness to graceful sad resignation and much more, all beautiful bound up with tasteful, ethereal melodies. She has just begun to mine the depths of her creative spirit and there are undoubtedly many more musical treasures yet to come.