David Francey Laker Boat

















Click on any of these photos to download high-resolution photos


arrowarrowarrowLatest CD and Press Release

arrowBiography and Quotes

arrowEmpty Train Tour Poster

arrowarrowarrowEmpty Train Tour Band Poster

  David Francey David Francey  
  David, Mark, Chris and Darren David Francey  
  Mark Westberg, Darren McMullen, Chris Coole and David Francey  

Updates - for what's new go to David Francey News

Latest CD Empty Train

Laker Music is pleased to announce the February 25th, 2016 International release of David Francey’s new album Empty Train. This will be the 11th album for this three-time Juno Award winner.

David Francey populates Empty Train with captivating cast of characters

Colin and John-Angus MacDonald of the Trews contribute a co-write

People watching.

It’s the ultimate pastime of the introvert:  spending time alone in a crowd, contemplating the dynamics of the characters around you, reflecting on their emotional lives, reflecting on your emotional life. 

On Empty Train, three-time Juno winner David Francey elevates the practice to high art.

The long-time manual labourer-turned-revered singer-songwriter populates Empty Train with the lonely, faceless patrons of a Yukon night club (“Mirror Ball”); hospital patients who “might get home but you never know” (“Hospital”); working class heroes in the form of sailors, signalers and stokers (“Crucible”); and women seeking to escape their circumstances through the sex trade (“Blue Girl”).

And then there’s the man who struck up a conversation with Francey on a flight in California:  a real life California football coach heading to the Holy Land, hoping to cheer up Palestinian children for a moment with his handful of magic tricks (“Holy Land”).

Francey contemplates each of their circumstances, singing with sensitive, weathered vocals, accompanied by beautifully spare acoustic arrangements, courtesy of long-time collaborators Mark Westberg (guitars), Chris Coole (banjo and guitar), and Darren McMullen (mandolin, bouzouki, etc.).  Fiddlers John Showman (New Country Rehab) and Rachel Davis (Còig) guest, along with Francey’s son, Colin, who contributes some guitar and backing vocals.

As he has for eleven straight albums now, David draws listeners into the emotional power of his stories using nothing but his incisive way with language, his ear for a catchy melody, and his deep and obvious empathy for people who are struggling – no fancy production or orchestration required.

In fact, the album was recorded in a rustic cabin North of Havelock, Ont. 

Francey, as many by now know, has been documenting the lives of the poor and working class almost his entire life.

A proud physical labourer from a proud working class Scottish immigrant family, he spent more than 30 years toiling in the Toronto rail yards, the Yukon bush and the Eastern Townships’ construction sites – hitchhiking across Canada at least three times in the process – all the while quietly chronicling in song the triumphs and hardships of life in the trenches.

He played no instruments, never aspired to a career in music, and only reluctantly took to the stage at the age of 45 under pressure from friends and family.

The reaction was instant.

Within two years, he’d won his first Juno, was touring internationally, and got to thinking that perhaps he should quit his construction job and try this music thing full time for a while.

Since then, he’s won two more Junos and been nominated a total of five times.  His songs have been covered by the Del McCoury Band, the Rankins, the Barra McNeils and Tracy Grammer – among countless others – and his “Skating Rink” video aired several times on Hockey Day in Canada, earning Francey the fandom of host Ron MacLean.   He performs regularly at some of the world’s most prestigious music festivals – Tonder in Denmark, Port Fairy in Australia – and he’s been the subject of a nationally-televised feature documentary (Burning Bright). 

He has also won the respect of songwriters across the musical spectrum for his seemingly effortless ability to turn out songs that seem destined to become classics.  “Junkie’s Heart” on Empty Train is a co-write with two such fans:  Colin and John-Angus MacDonald of the roots rock outfit the Trews.

Long ago, the Georgia Straight called Francey “The closest thing Canada has to Woody Guthrie.”

More recently, Exclaim wrote, “It can be argued that David Francey has had more impact than any old-school Canadian folk songsmith since the late great Stan Rogers.”

Now more than 15 years into his career, with not a miss among his eleven albums, it won’t be long before Francey himself becomes a standard-bearer for the next generation of promising songwriters.

In support of his new album, David Francey will be touring Canada and United States throughout 2016. For his full schedule, please visit www.davidfrancey.com


David Francey is a Scottish-born Canadian carpenter-turned-songwriter, who has become known as “one of Canada’s most revered folk poets and singers” (Toronto Star). Born in Ayrshire, Scotland to parents who were factory workers, he moved to Canada when he was twelve. For decades, he worked across Canada in rail yards, construction sites, and in the Yukon bush, all the while writing poetry, setting it to melodies in his head and singing it to himself as he worked.

A truly authentic folk singer, Francey is a documentarian of the working person who never imagined earning a living from his music. But when he was in his 40s, his wife, artist Beth Girdler, encouraged him to share his songs and sing in public. The reaction was instant. His first album Torn Screen Door came out in 1999 and was a hit in Canada. Since then, he has released eleven albums, won three Juno Awards and has had his songs covered by such artists as The Del McCoury Band, The Rankin Family, James Keelaghan and Tracy Grammer.

Francey also had the honour of receiving the prestigious SOCAN Folk Music Award as well as taking home the Grand Prize in both the International Acoustic Music Award and in the Folk category for the John Lennon Songwriting Award.

"David’s straightforward songs tell honest stories of real people and real places. Poetic perception and a keen eye for the heart of the matter are trademarks of the man and his music. His songs and stories are a direct connection for audiences seeking depth and meaning in the day-to-day." Shelter Valley Folk Festival

David Francey was born in Ayrshire, Scotland where he got his first taste of the working life as a paperboy. At age 10 he was devouring the newspapers he delivered, establishing a life-long interest in politics and world events while developing the social conscience that forms the backdrop of his songs.

He was twelve when his family immigrated to Toronto. He says he can trace his love of the land, the history, and the people of his adopted country to weekend family drives exploring southern Ontario. Music played a large part in these family outings. They sang traditional Scottish tunes as they drove through the Canadian countryside. Dad and sister Muriel sang melody, while mother and David sang harmonies.

His attachment to Canada grew with travel. He hitched across the country three times, then thumbed his way to the Yukon. This attachment surfaces in his songs of rail lines, farms, and the St. Lawrence Seaway. He grew to understand the people while working in Toronto train yards, the Yukon bush, and as a carpenter in the Eastern Townships. These experiences colour his first CD, Torn Screen Door, with songs like Hard Steel Mill, Gypsy Boys, and Working Poor and his second, Far End of Summer, with Highway, Flowers of Saskatchewan and February Morning Drive.

In concert David is a singer and a storyteller. His wry humour and astute observations combined with his openhearted singing style have earned him a loyal following.

David lives with his wife, artist Beth Girdler and in the quiet but charming Lanark Highlands in southern Ontario. They are visited often by their son Colin, daughters Amy and Julia and grandkids Tristan and Alice.

David with his Mother, Father and Sister, Muriel. Ayr Scotland
Age 16, Toronto, Canada
18, White Pass and
Yukon Railway
21, Queensland Beech,
Nova Scotia

Selected Quotes

"…one of Canada's best loved troubadours" Greg Quill, Toronto Star

DavidFrancey is one of my fave conversationalists. Great stories, great songs.” Amanda Putz, host of CBC's Bandwidth

"He's like those Texas songwriters, the Guy Clark's and Van Zandt's and such, who take life and set it to music, in such plain but perfect language. Oh, and it rhymes. And it's catchy. Each song is a bit of common sense philosophy, mixed with a tiny bit of sadness and a lot of love" CBC New Brunswick

"A Francey record is best served with a pint over a few moments to yourself to sit back and enjoy" View

"Francey's clear, simple songs speak volumes to his followers. After a decade in music, David Francey is known as one of Canada's finest tunesmiths and a champion of the Everyman, admired for his less-is-more approach to writing. It's amazing how he manages to address deep stuff with such spare ingredients" The Edmonton Journal

"Scottish born, Francey is a two-time Juno Award winner whose straightforward songs tell honest stories of real people and real places. Poetic perception and a keen eye for the heart of the matter are trademarks of the man and his music. His songs and stories are a direct connection for audiences seeking depth and meaning in the day-to-day" Shelter Valley Folk Festival

"Francey writes songs that feel like they've been sung a million times in a million places by a million voices" Judith Edelman in Puremusic.com

"Francey has made a reputation for himself as one of Canada's most revered folk poets and singers… [His songs] are small and beautifully crafted pieces of work that have made Francey both a folk festival favourite and something of a latter-day Canadian poet laureate."
Greg Quill, the Toronto Star

"A consummate craftsman…David Francey is one of the biggest stars of Canadian folk Music"
Words & Music - SOCAN Magazine

"Francey has been bringing an acute eye to penning image-laden lyrics for years" The Edmonton Journal

"One of Canada's outstanding poets, songwriters, storytellers. That's David Francey with a lovely little tribute to tonight." Ron MacLean, Hockey Night in Canada. November 22/03 Following the Canadian Heritage Classic Hockey Game

"Without a doubt, David Francey is the BEST folk singer/songwriter going in Canada today" Fred's Records, Newfoundland

"Hands-down the best songwriter working in Canada today." the Times Colonist, Victoria

"he's the closest thing this country has to Woody Guthrie" the Georgia Strait, Vancouver

"one of today's finest folk-based singer-songwriters" "a working man's poetry" Sing Out

"David Francey is coming into his own in middle age as one of Canada's best songsmiths - and that's not damning him with faint praise." Daniel Gewertz, The Boston Herald

"[Francey's] observations pack an emotional wallop… [His] songs connect because they reflect common responses to life's journeys in a wry, poetic way." The San Diego Union - Tribune

"the likeliest candidate for all-Canadian folk singer" …" Patrick Langston, The Ottawa Citizen

"David Francey's songs are lean, whippet-like creations, a bit like the man himself. With not one wasted word or superfluous line he takes the everyday, often mundane business of living and elevates it into something infinitely more noble and memorable, the mark of a truly gifted songwriter." Eric Bogle, Australia

"David is the most exciting new narrative songwriter to emerge in many years"
Brian McNeill, Head of Scottish Music. Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama

"David Francey's voice is a revelation, full and melodious, not to be missed"
The Berlingske Tidende, Denmark

"One of the best shows in our 32 year history! His CDs are great, but he's truly incredible on stage. " Dave Humphreys, Two Way Street Coffee House, Chicago Illinois

"David Francey is the best Canadian folk writer that I have heard in 20 years. I think that he is going to be a voice in this country for a long time and that his songs will be sung by my great, great, great grandchildren." James Keelaghan, Winnipeg, Manitoba

"words of eloquence, beauty .and charm, hung on a jewel of a voice"
Kieran Kane, Nashville Tennessee

"David's songs are meant to be sung, and the more voices there are singing them, the better they sound. They are also built to last - so well put together that they are rich in that beauty which is perhaps the most elusive of all, simplicity ... that kind of economy of expression where the line between craft and art is crossed. " Dugg Simpson, Vancouver Folk Music Festival

"Francey has emerged as one of Canada's most gifted songwriters." The Montreal Gazette

"Francey is indeed a unique songwriting voice with few peers" Mike Devlin, Times Colonist

"A former carpenter who has quickly established himself as one of Canada's most revered folksingers, alongside names like James Keelaghan and Stan Rogers." Martin Kemp, FFWD

"I usually try to catch a song or two from the opening act to see what they do. When David Francey opened for me, though, it was a whole different ballgame. He is a riveting performer and writer. I stayed the whole set. I just couldn't pull myself away to go back and tune up. I'm now a
big fan." Bill Morrissey, Tamworth, New Hampshire

"My favorite songwriter since John Prine" Harvey Reid, York Maine

"one of today's finest folk-based singer-songwriters." Mike Regenstrief, Singout Magazine

"Like country blues legend Mississippi John Hurt, David Francey writes in a direct, snapshot style. And, like Hurt, his folk-based songs ought to be played 100 years from now."
Michael Johnson, Exclaim Magazine.

"David Francey gave an absolutely stunning performance at Blue Skies Music Festival. He is a brilliant writer and a passionate singer who completely captivated all who heard him- including the other performers. His songs are beautifully crafted, highly original and superbly played. David has a talent that is something special- I have no doubt that he will be an important voice in Canadian music in a very short time." Al Rankin, Artistic Director, Blue Skies Music Festival

"Francey is regarded as one of the brightest lights on Canada's roots music scene." Calgary Folk Festival

"Passionate and authentic, David Francey brings his superb songs to life in spellbinding style." Chris White, Artistic Director, Ottawa Folk Festival

"David Francey finds the poetry in our everyday lives and the soul in our forgotten places. And better yet, Francey cradles his down-to-earth stories in infectious melodies that make it impossible to resist singing along." Maria Dunn, Edmonton, Alberta

"David is one of the most talented performers to have appeared on our stage. He possesses all of what I consider to be the elements necessary to the success of a contemporary performing songwriter: a passion for the music he creates: great songwriting: beautiful arrangements: an amazing voice: an engaging and compelling stage presence and finally and perhaps most importantly, a warm, vivid sense of humour and fun." Paul Symes, Black Sheep Inn, Quebec

"David Francey has the warmest voice you've heard in years. The songs he writes are so connected and relevant to the heart & experiences of the working man, you'll listen as though you've known this singer all your life"
Kate Power, Artichoke Music, Portland OR

"Simple and concise his lyrics unlock the magic hidden in the ordinary" ... "His tunes are simple and irresistibly singable, while his lyrics exemplify both the intuitive poet's gift for finding the exact image,and the professional writer's refusal to accept anything less than honed simplicity." Steve Pedersen, Halifax Chronicle Herald

"Today a workshop with The Waifs….and David Francey, a singer-songwriter born in Scotland and hailing from Quebec. The theme is "they call it democracy"….David Francey is new to me. Good incisive songs, most definitely political, and accompanied by two great players." Taken from Lee's Tour Diary, 2001. Lee, drummer for Oysterband

"David was a standing ovation success at the Ottawa Folk Festival. His CD "Torn Screen Door" has been making the rounds of all the folk listeners. His Scottish accent, especially fine song writing, and a rich voice the likes of James Keelaghan, Bobby Watt, or even Garnet Rogers makes him one of the most pleasurably listenable performers today. He actually was on stage with Shari Ulrich and James Keelaghan at a daystage here in Ottawa. As he was singing, they joined in catching him off guard. David is modest. His smile was huge as the audience then joined in." Dean Verger, Rasputin's Folk Café, Ottawa, Ontario

"David Francey paints a portrait of Canada with his songs - from small town Sunday mornings, love won and lost in the big city, down the backroads, across industrial landscapes to the sea - he sings of the stuff that we (Canadians) are made of." Carl Borgstrom, Artistic Director, Live! at the Opera House, Orangeville, Ontario

"David has truly mastered the art of storytelling through song...[he] writes extraordinary songs of ordinary people - songs which are both simple and eloquent at the same time." Sally Greenberg, Berkeley, CA

"Equally politically aware and no less passionate, was David Francey, who we shared a workshop stage with at the Canmore Folk festival. He’s a Scotsman who has lived a long time in Canada and who writes and sings (beautifully) impassioned and searching songs about the world we find ourselves living in. Not a million miles away from Dick Gaughan, if you’re looking for a musical and political comparison. We loved the ease with which he engaged the audience and the intensity of his delivery, and he loved our witty pop take on serious matters. More mutual admiration." Chumbawamba, England

back home


Email List Sign-up