Braden Gates is a young man, which may come as a surprise to anyone who has heard his brand of classic foot stompin’, fiddle playin’, guitar pickin’ folk. It would be easy to stereotype Gates as an old soul, but despite his love of traditional folk instrumentation and songwriting and old timey stage clothes, Gates’ sound carries a youthful feel and never feels affected or inauthentic. Through the ease with which he bows his fiddle and picks his guitar, and the straightforward uncluttered honesty of his lyrics, Gates has a natural way with a story.
And storytelling really is at the centre of Gates’ writing: songs about characters hanging out on Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue (unabashed local references are peppered throughout Gates’ work) and other tales of lives lived. Gates’ warm and slightly gravelly voice relays stories that are funny and heartbreaking — usually over the course of the same tune. Full of wit and wisdom, folksy charm and sharp observations, Gates’ compositions are relevant and, strangely, very rooted in 2016 —even if he plays that fiddle and picks that guitar like an artist three times his age.