Though he's been at it for decades, Fred Eaglesmith finds the songs just won't stop coming.
"I'm always writing like 60 to a hundred songs a year," the Americana singer and songwriter says over the phone from a road stop in Charleston, W.Va. "Right now it's crazy how much stuff I have. ...
"I'm really on fire, but I've been on fire for a really long time. It's sort of amazing. A lot of my friends tell me they burn out. I'm glad I haven't."
Eaglesmith's latest album, Standard, maintains the exceptionally high quality of his recorded output. Rooted in country and folk, it's rustic without sounding antiquated -- it's got some electric guitar and drums. And as with much of his work, the settings are rural -- no surprise for someone who grew up as one of nine children on a farm in Ontario.
"It was real life, that hard-core upbringing I had, walking barefoot in the fields, in the hay stubble," Eaglesmith says. "It left me a niche. New country tries to go there, but doesn't go there very well -- there's always some shine on it. And urban music doesn't go there at all. So they left me a big hole, and happily I know how to fill it."
To Eaglesmith, 59, he's like a lot of the characters who populate Standard.
"I feel out of time, but I'm not resentful about it," he says. "I'm sort of happy about it. It's given me a practicality. I can change the oil on the bus. I can fix my stuff. ... People say to me, 'If it all goes to hell, I'm going to hang around with you.' "
As a writer, Eaglesmith can cut to the bone with surgical precision, and most of his songs aren't what you'd call upbeat. On stage, however, between songs, he can be hilarious, cutting up with the timing and flair of a master comic.
"I became a songwriter when I was very young, and I had a very, very hard childhood, so I wrote all these sad songs," he explains. "And people said to me, `I can't come to see you more than once every five years, it's just so sad.' But I was young and I was precious.
"But I learned slowly to lighten up in between, and as I became more confident it became a thing. ... Now, because of everything going on in the world, people are really happy for this sort of lightness and comedic side. And I'm very comfortable with it."