The first time I heard Ed Schmidt play live was in my garage. You wouldn’t really call Schmidt’s style of music garage…but there he was! We were throwing some kind of summer
shindig and the garage had been turned into a makeshift stage for a few young bands. After numerous requests to play something, Schmidt took advantage of an extended break between bands and, accompanied only by one of the young percussionists, treated us to 45 minutes of polished unplugged. It didn’t take long for the older wine tumblers and younger beer bottles to recognize that there, sat on an old wooden chair, in front of my workbench and amidst the many ladders, rakes and paint cans, was an undeniably finished product. A man and his acoustic guitar, singing to everyone and presumably to no one. To anyone who cared to listen. And we did!
I’ve been a fan since that day.
Schmidt is Canadian born and grew up in the suburbs of Toronto. As a teen he quickly found his love for music and played in rock bands, before finally leaving Canada to travel. He would eventually call Ireland home, where his mother, Irish born, had since returned from North America. However, what followed his departure from Canada were years of busking, an artist in the making, mostly through European countries until eventually settling in Italy, along the Adriatic coast. After years on the scene the onetime busker has musically evolved into a major singer/songwriter, with his folkloristic charm and fervour for lyrical ballads
I recently took in Schmidt’s show at the PAO in San Benedetto del Tronto. Schmidt was debuting music from his latest CD entitled, No Commitments Except Those Created by Chance . The project was recorded in Canada, Ireland and Germany. It was a long time in the making and Schmidt seemed visibly relieved by the release. He performed before a full house, leading his audience through two hours of both old and new songs, indicative of a recording career that has now eclipsed 25 years. When you first hear Schmidt, you’re intrigued as to how such a soft voice can strike with such resonance. His sardonic tone in Charle’s Bridge, where the singer takes solace in the simple pleasures that run deeply parallel to the consumer tendencies of an indifferent modern society, create such a profound sense of repulsion, disdain and isolation. An outsider looking in. Cloaked in an accent, unmistakably influenced by two continents, two cultures; half Canadian, half Irish, Schmidt comes across as an artist, seemingly void of any distinct origin. It is this misplaced, bastardised accent that ironically builds on Schmidt’s universal persona, adhering to an everyman style of poetic banter that entices his audience to follow him through every song, every story, every little importance. Many of the new songs from No Commitments comment on Schmidt’s gains and losses over the years. Moments of pleasure and pain, that somehow morph into a peculiar continuum, a staircase of human experiences. No song reveals this more than the lovely, Sometimes, in which Schmidt digs deep down into his soul and produces both the turmoil and joys that life has bestowed on him . “I know fear, and I know hate, I know what it means to be afraid.” The themes are deeply introspective and, at times, can make the listener feel like a curious intruder, inadvertently within earshot and witness to something poignantly confessed. With his latest release Eddie Schmidt has indeed touched on many universal sentiments, presenting them with grace and honesty. While so many take something big and diminish it in importance with oversimplified generalities, Schmidt often takes something small, possibly insignificant, and builds on it in a way that it seems an integrate part of our existence. The love ballad, Venya from Venice, builds on the simple notion of human love and its capacity to create hope and dreams and more importantly give one both identity and direction.
Several songs are written in first person , a technique befitting of Schmidt’s narrative style, allowing the singer a unique way of striking up a personal chord with his audience, while at the same time producing raw contemporary messages and crude impressions dealing with themes
such as war and technology; (Once Again, Terabytes of Data). Not even Italy escapes his critical eye. Uncle Leroy’s Shed is a strong metaphor, condemning the political and social corruption embedded in the country’s culture.
Vivid images of life’s troubles and redemptions awaken you to a simple yet complete recognition of Schmidt’s view to the power of the human condition. The strength of an insatiable human will, at odds with an unrelenting world yet so apparently aware of the undeniable pleasure of being a part of it all, are all major themes dominating his current music.
Weather it be by reminiscing or by foreshadowing, Schmidt lets it be known that, although life at times may be arduous, it stops for no one. . Neither has he, with his head held high and his no-regrets philosophy, this artist has seemingly come to terms with himself and the world that surrounds him. Schmidt comes over as an attractive survivor, a true diamond in the rough.
I will look back at my life,
I will make amends if they need making.
I will let go of all regrets,
I cannot change the past
I do not worry anymore.
My days of stress are gone.
Article written by Jimy Paxton