Brian Laidlaw & The Family Trade “Pure Sorrow” – Flee from all these entrapments

The Family Trade is a folk ensemble led by poet-songwriter Brian Laidlaw and rural artist and arts-advocate Ashley Hanson. Raised in rural Minnesota, Ashley is a current Obama Foundation Fellow whose work as a theater-maker and musician has national recognition for its contributions to community-building and economic development in small towns; in addition to playing with the Family Trade, she runs the nonprofit Department of Public Transformation and the site-specific theatre company PlaceBase Productions.  After several years on the songwriting faculty at McNally Smith College of Music, California-born Brian Laidlaw is now nearing completion of a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Denver.

Pure Sorrow‘ is not, however, all Laidlaw’s own work – it is taken from the new album ‘This Aster‘, which is a collection of songs inspired by the poems by the French-Canadian poet Emile Nelligan.  In a  fascinating example of art and life – or lives perhaps would be better – intertwining the story of the recording and of Nelligan’s life have a strange mirror.  Nelligan was born in Montreal on Christmas Eve, 1879; he published his first poems at sixteen, and was heralded as a rising star of Canadian literature. The poet produced his entire oeuvre by the age of nineteen, and was then, at twenty, abruptly committed to a mental hospital. Nelligan remained in the asylum for the rest of his life, and never wrote again.  A century later, poet-songwriter Brian Laidlaw was offered a Hinge Artist Residency to live and work on the grounds of a different mental hospital – the Kirkbride, in Northern Minnesota – for a stretch of several weeks, translating Nelligan’s poems from French into English, and then setting the texts to music.

About Jonathan Aird 2565 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments