Track Premiere: “Cold Iron Stare” by Kyle Gryphon

“I tried to paint a picture of a modern Newfoundland tragedy,” says songwriter Kyle Gryphon. “People who left their homes in search of employment only to find their lives in ruins”.

Kyle Gryphon is musician, songsmith and construction worker who resides on the Southern Shore of the Avalon Peninsula.Cold Iron Stare is the premiere song off his upcoming solo album that takes a dark and genuine contemporary spin on traditional Newfoundland folk music.

Unintentionally fitting to our current global situation, the album is titled Isolation. Despite the impeccable and timely relevance of the title, the name was intact long before the COVID-19 pandemic confined everybody to their homes. The album was recorded in the latter part of 2019.

“In isolation you’re free from thoughts or actions that are not your own, good or bad,” says Gryphon. “As a single individual can become isolated, so can a large group in sort of a mass isolation creating like a hive mind or mob mentality.”

“A good situation to free your mind” explains Gryphon. “Or let paranoia set in.”

You can order the CD and digital download of Isolation here

Isolation features nine songs comprised mostly of original compositions. The songs strike a balance between a warm regional knack for vivid storytelling, and the cold atmospheric minimalism of the album’s instrumentals. Gryphon has been playing traditional music since he first picked up an accordion at the age of four, and his propensity for the craft is evident in the solo performances of the banjo, accordion, guitar and vocals that compound the makeup of the album.

The subject matter of the stories told on Isolation range from folklore and esotericism, to the harsh realities and hardships of everyday people. Even with its dark overtones, the wit and perseverant spirit that is often prevalent in Newfoundland art and culture pokes an occasional pencil hole to shed some light between the bleaker themes on the album.

Perhaps none of the stories told on Isolation are more bleak and affecting than “Cold Iron Stare”, a distressing ballad of the broken Newfoundland worker.

Kyle Gryphon – “Cold Iron Stare” (Isolation, 2020)

“Many Newfoundlanders are lured by promises of semi secure jobs, overtime hours, and high wages,” describes Gryphon. “They work 16 hour days, 7 days a week to provide a life for themselves they won’t have a chance to live.”

“Trading their time and sanity for houses with rooms they’ll never enter and toys they’ll barely play with. The illusion of living on high in time fades to reveal a monotonous reality, with many turning to drugs and alchohol to cope. Life as an upper class slave takes its toll on the body and mind.”

If you grew up in Newfoundland, chances are this story in some way relates to you. Somewhere in your family, your friends or your community, there are people living some version of the work camp life. The lifestyle is so common in our province that we often don’t stop to think about the emotional and physical brutality and despairing realities that can rear their ugly heads, only to get swept under the rug. It is highlighting these brutalities and realities that can hide in our every day lives that is one of the most stirring elements of the song.

Like the customary ghost that haunts many lives in Newfoundland in some way, shape or form, “Cold Iron Stare” delves into the shadows of addiction, and the detrimental escapism of those who are vulnerable, overworked and often overlooked.

“When help is sought, they are showered with painkillers and anti-depressants, leaving them numb, dull, and not a care in the world,” Gryphon explains.

“It’s a trademark of oil and construction culture: don’t think, don’t feel, get back to work.”

You can order a CD and digital download of the full Isolation album via our web store. Kyle will be personally doing contactless deliveries for the orders placed in St. John’s and some surrounding areas.

Read the lyrics toCold Iron Stare below:

“Cold Iron Stare”
by Kyle Gryphon

I gaze on with a cold iron stare
that look in the eyes as if nothing was there
how I long for the day when my soul can break free
but all the hope in the world means nothing to me

I left home for work far out on the sands
I let a small fortune slip right through my hands
hard labour by day and by night booze and crack
by’s I end up with nothing but a poor broken back

I’ll gaze on with this cold iron stare
and tell me one reason for why I should care
for I long for the day when my soul can break free
but all the hope in the world means nothing to me

I went to the doc for he would prescribe
the ultimate cure for my back and my side
he’ll write me a script and then I’ll get the blame
for it’s hard to be shamefull when you can’t feel no pain

So I sit on my couch and watch the time fly
I sift through the stations as life passes by
the youngsters grown up and the wife moved away
and she left me with nothing but a mortgage to pay

I work for the barrons of black industry
my wife and my parents were then proud of me
and it’s all hunky-dory and oh ain’t it swell
but the life they call heaven it came straight from hell

I’m a hardworking man and I’m tired of my life
my mind tends to cave with the brute mental strife
and I ask myself what it means to be free
but all the hope in the world means nothing to me

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