Inuvik singer-songwriter Abe Drennan remembers the fear that gripped him in the first weeks of the pandemic.
“I went out to buy groceries at Stanton for the first time since we shut down,” he remembers. “And I remember feeling a real fear that I have never felt before — I’ve felt fear before, but not like this. And it was going to the grocery store.”
“Whenever I feel something like that, something that powerful, I have to work it through it, through song and through writing.”
Almost two-and-a-half years later, that writing process turned out “Unknown Road,” a modern folk tune that reflects on the resilience of the Inuvik community in the face of pandemic adversity.
Gradually, the community was able to come back together as restrictions were lifted and life returned to normal. “Trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel was really hard sometimes, right?” says Drennan. “But when the mask mandates were lifted, and we could actually gather, I was like, ‘No, we need to do this as a community, we need to come together.'”
The accompanying video is also a tribute to Drennan’s home community: It opens with a shot of him walking across the ice road that connects Inuvik and Aklavik, and features shots of the inside of East Three Secondary School and a crowd of local students.
At the climax of the video, “When the community joined me on the walk down the road, it was the opportunity to symbolize that, here we are, having come out of this horrific experience,” says Drennan. “And here we are back together again. And it was a reason to celebrate.”
Drennan, who is also a teacher, won this year’s Fan’s Choice award at the NWT Music Awards. “Unknown Road” is part of a planned new EP that should be released sometime next spring. A new Christmas song, “Light of the Season,” will also be released on Dec. 17.
“Unknown Road” and its accompanying music video are now available to stream on YouTube. The single is also available to stream on Apple and Spotify.