This past June saw Aaron Berger release his third studio album, On Healing Ground. The album was recorded in the summer of 2016 at Joe Lapinski’s Wow! Recording Studio Pop Up Studio at the Oddfellows Temple and in a rustic barn house in Niagara on the Lake. Berger explained that the songs on the record were written to be relevant to the times that we live in, and in hopes that they would inspire and resonate with other people. “I recorded On Healing Ground as a way to mark my coming into adulthood,” he said.
We caught up with the St. Catharines singer / songwriter to talk about his recent release.
What is the significance of the title to you?
“On Healing Ground is about moving into a space where deep learning, healing and redemption are possible, where grief and gratitude can both be carried as two hands of the prayer of life, where we might learn to bear witness to the times we have been born to. The title was inspired by author Francis Wellar’s remarkable book about grief called Entering the Healing Ground.”
How does this record differentiate itself from your previous record Colour and Light (2013)?
This record has a different feel to it. Colour & Light was produced by Peter Haverkamp with more of a polished, studio sound. On Healing Ground has more of a live off the floor feel to it. I think its a bit more delicate of a record, tempered by being a bit older this time around. What both albums have in common is that the songs are carried by the expressive and skilled musicians that play them.
Was there any reason for the six year gap between records?
This album took way longer than I anticipated. While we were making it both Joe and I both had the blessing of the birth of our first children. That definitely slowed this project down but also added a lot of richness and depth to it. I was also engaged with other musical projects including the Berger Blake Goold release of Albert St. Sessions in 2016 as well as composing and performing in several projects with longtime collaborator, writer and producer Barbara Worthy. Last summer I also had the great fortune of working with my brother Wes at the Toronto Fringe on a debut production of a play he wrote called First Dates that featured my songs throughout.
Could you tell us a little bit about how/when/why you got into performing music?
I was around 16 years old at St Michael’s High School in Niagara Falls and stumbled into playing music. I was extremely lucky to have talented friends around me that were into playing music and writing songs. Brandon Agnew. C.D Onofrio, Nathanial Goold – I was inspired by and learned a lot from them. My first gigs were playing patios at bars in the falls when I was around 17. My brother’s friend Dave Lavey got us some gigs. People showed up to cheer us on and we were off and running. I’m 35 now and can’t believe that was almost 20 years ago. I got into playing music because it felt good and came relatively easy to me. Of course, I liked the attention that came with it. I also loved the ability to share experience and deep emotions through music – I still do.
Be sure to look for Berger’s next performance to snag a copy of the disc, and look out for a new Berger Blake Goold EP later this year.