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Riverman 06:37
Riverman (Nick Drake) Betty came by on her way Said she had a word to say About things today And fallen leaves. Said she hadn't heard the news Hadn't had the time to choose A way to lose But she believes. Going to see the river man Going to tell him all I can About the plan For lilac time. If he tells me all he knows About the way his river flows And all night shows In summertime. Betty said she prayed today For the sky to blow away Or maybe stay She wasn't sure. For when she thought of summer rain Calling for her mind again She lost the pain And stayed for more. Going to see the river man Going to tell him all I can About the ban On feeling free. If he tells me all he knows About the way his river flows I don't suppose It's meant for me. Oh, how they come and go
2. Any Other Way (William Bell) Here you come again And you say that your my friend But I know why your here She wants to know how I feel Tell her that I am happy Tell her that I am gay Tell her I wouldn't have it Any other way People have been talking Since we been apart And when I pass I hear them whisper, (ha, ha) There he goes with a broken heart But when you see my baby Here is what you say Tell her I wouldn't have it Any other way That's all I got to say my friend Now we better say good-bye I think you better go right now Or you might see me cry But when you see my baby This is what you say Tell her I wouldn't have it Any other way No other way I wouldn't have it baby No other way I just won't have it baby Any other way
3. Lovers In A Dangerous Time (Bruce Cockburn) Don't the hours grow shorter as the days go by You never get to stop and open your eyes One day you're waiting for the sky to fall The next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all When you're lovers in a dangerous time Lovers in a dangerous time These fragile bodies of touch and taste This vibrant skin -- this hair like lace Spirits open to the thrust of grace Never a breath you can afford to waste When you're lovers in a dangerous time Lovers in a dangerous time When you're lovers in a dangerous time Sometimes you're made to feel as if your love's a crime -- But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight -- Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight When you're lovers in a dangerous time Lovers in a dangerous time And we're lovers in a dangerous time Lovers in a dangerous time
4. October Daughters (Michael Occhipinti) Tell me the story of October rain Of autumn days that brought our saving grace And tell me all about your strongest hour That saw you through to hear us sing our power We call to you a rising wave To be born into a world that you will change This fragile place that needs her daughters To rise in flight, and soar again Chorus: If I could teach my daughters How to carry the weight of knowing when to fight and patience You are the colours of October days Reflecting back the light in your own ways The weight of hope is yours to carry And balance with the weight of life
Visions 04:31
5. Visions (Stevie Wonder) People hand in hand Have I lived to see the milk and honey land? Where hate's a dream and love forever stands Or is this a vision in my mind? The law was never passed But somehow all men feel they're truly free at last Have we really gone this far through space and time Or is this a vision in my mind? I'm not one who make believes
I know that leaves are green
They only turn to brown
When autumn comes around
I know just what I say
Today's not yesterday
And all things have an ending But what I'd like to know
Is could a place like this exist so beautiful
Or do we have to find our wings and fly away
To the vision in our mind?
6. Pacing The Cage (Bruce Cockburn) Sunset is an angel weeping Holding out a bloody sword No matter how I squint I cannot Make out what it's pointing toward Sometimes you feel like you live too long Days drip slowly on the page You catch yourself Pacing the cage I've proven who I am so many times The magnetic strip's worn thin And each time I was someone else And every one was taken in Powers chatter in high places Stir up eddies in the dust of rage Set me to pacing the cage I never knew what you all wanted So I gave you everything All that I could pillage All the spells that I could sing It's as if the thing were written In the constitution of the age Sooner or later you'll wind up. Pacing the cage Sometimes the best map will not guide you You can't see what's round the bend Sometimes the road leads through dark places Sometimes the darkness is your friend Today these eyes scan bleached-out land For the coming of the outbound stage Pacing the cage
07 The Weight of Hope (Elizabeth Shepherd) We walked together one evening The buzzing crickets were our summer soundtrack I remember thinking “we never talk, not like this” We were both looking straight ahead And she told me stories I’d never heard A sliver of the person behind the mother And she turned to face me, and I see her lips moving still, saying, “Never buckle.” “Never buckle under the weight of hope”
08 Night Comes On (Leonard Cohen) I went down to the place where I knew she lay waiting Under the marble and the snow I said, Mother I'm frightened, the thunder and the lightning I'll never come through this alone She said, I'll be with you, my shawl wrapped around you My hand on your head when you go And the night came on, it was very calm I wanted the night to go on and on But she said, go back, go back to the world We were fighting in Egypt when they signed this agreement That nobody else had to die There was this terrible sound, my father went down With a terrible wound in his side He said, try to go on, take my books, take my gun Remember, my son, how they lied And the night comes on, it's very calm I'd like to pretend that my father was wrong But you don't want to lie, not to the young We were locked in this kitchen, I took to religion And I wondered how long she would stay I needed so much to have nothing to touch I've always been greedy that way But my son and my daughter climbed out of the water Crying, Papa, you promised to play And they lead me away to the great surprise It's Papa, don't peek, Papa, cover your eyes And they hide, they hide in the world Now the crickets are singing, the vesper bells ringing The cat's curled asleep in his chair I'll go down to Bill's Bar, I can make it that far And I'll see if my friends are still there Yes, and here's to the few, who forgive what you do And the fewer who don't even care And the night comes on, it's very calm I want to cross over, I want to go home But she says, Go back, go back to the world
10 Lord Of The Starfields (Bruce Cockburn) Lord of the starfields Ancient of Days Universe Maker Here's a song in your praise Wings of the storm cloud Beginning and end You make my heart leap Like a banner in the wind O love that fires the sun Keep me burning. Lord of the starfields Sower of life, Heaven and earth are Full of your light Voice of the nova Smile of the dew All of our yearning Only comes home to you O love that fires the sun keep me burning
11. Wondering Where The Lions Are (Bruce Cockburn) Sun's up, uh huh, looks okay The world survives into another day And I'm thinking about eternity Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me I had another dream about lions at the door They weren't half as frightening as they were before But I'm thinking about eternity Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me Walls windows trees, waves coming through You be in me and I'll be in you Together in eternity Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me Up among the firs where it smells so sweet Or down in the valley where the river used to be I got my mind on eternity Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me And I'm wondering where the lions are...I'm wondering where the lions are... Huge orange flying boat rises off a lake Thousand-year-old petroglyphs doing a double take Pointing a finger at eternity I'm sitting in the middle of this ecstasy Young men marching, helmets shining in the sun, Polished as precise like the brain behind the gun (Should be!) they got me thinking about eternity Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me And I'm wondering where the lions are...I'm wondering where the lions are... Freighters on the nod on the surface of the bay One of these days we're going to sail away, going to sail into eternity some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me And I'm wondering where the lions are...
11. All The Lovely Ladies (Gordon Lightfoot) All the lovely ladies in their finery tonight I wish that I could know them one by one All the handsome gentlemen with loving on their minds Strolling in to take the ladies home Bless you all and keep you on the road to tenderness Heaven can be yours just for now All the gentle strangers who by nature do not smile To everyone who cannot hold a pen To all you heavy rounders with a headache for your pains Who dread the thought of going 'round the bend Bless you all and keep you on the road to better things Heaven can be yours just for now To all the lovely ladies in their finery tonight I wish that I could kiss you while you knit To all the ones who learn to live with bein' second-guessed Whose job it is to give more then to get Bless you all and keep you with the strength to understand Heaven can be yours just for now To all the little dreamers with a dream that cannot last To all the sleeping giants who must wake To every man who answers to the letter of the law And all the rest imprisoned by mistake Bless you all and keep you with the faith to let it pass Heaven can be yours just for now To all the lonely sailors who have trouble beeing seen To all of you with heartache that remains Maybe sometime later you might swim back into shore If someone could relieve you of your chains Bless you all and keep you all on the land or on the sea Heaven can be yours, just for now
Moon Ray 01:24


We are Elizabeth Shepherd and Michael Occhipinti: ES:MO. Having performed together since 2012, we often found ourselves supplementing our larger ensemble tours with a few duo dates at the tail end. Our repertoire changed accordingly - you can’t perform the same songs with a 6-piece band as a 2-piece. Over time, we were surprised to discover the versatility that we could bring to such a stripped-down show. We each brought some of our respective musical past to the table - favourite tunes we’d never done, revisited covers that we had played in other contexts, and ideas for new arrangements.  After many shows and jams, the music took on a life of its own. We’ve both recorded projects where we’ve each put our stamp on other peoples’ music, but the real joy of this project lies in meeting each other as friends and equals who can bounce ideas off of one another, where the sky's the limit. After 4 years of accumulated repertoire, we figured we should really commit this to record - and the result is this little gem. 

In 2019 we had the opportunity at the end of a tour to book a few days in the studio at the Banff Centre For The Arts.  We wanted to capture some of our live duo set, as well as work on some new ideas, and we left with a dozen songs and a memory of the unforgettable sound a mother elk makes to her herd when a few coyotes appear (we happened to be in the middle of that encounter). However, we wanted to expand on that first session, and planned to record more.  Once the Covid pandemic hit and canceled all of our concerts and tour plans, it all got very real: Michael is based in Ontario, and Elizabeth in Quebec, so if we couldn’t even get together with our friends and family locally, we were definitely going to have trouble recording.  

Luckily, summer 2020 gave us a window where we could “bubble” with our families, and we got together in Quebec so our kids could play and we could do some writing.  We were also able to get together in Toronto a few months later with Davide and Roberto, but just as we were close to having all the songs we wanted ready for mixing, the next Covid wave hit, so the internet proved to be our lifeline. We Facetimed or uploaded ideas, and recorded additional parts at home.  Where mixing would usually mean being in the studio with David Travers-Smith to shape the record in real time, we ended up typing or phoning our mixing comments back and forth.  All of this to say that it has been a long journey to The Weight of Hope.  It seems surreal to even write this now, but while the dark period we’ve gone through globally has very much coloured this album, as it did all aspects of life, we’ve also tried to colour it with the joy and intimate communication we have playing live with other people.  It has been very heavy to be deprived of that indeed. 

The Weight of Hope comes from a line in a poem by Alice Oswald that we both thought fit the times we are living through, so much so that Michael referred to it in his lyrics for October Daughters, and Elizabeth created the words for the title track. We think it sums up a little of what emerged from the chaos; as the world seemed to be splitting at the seams while we were all holed up in our homes, we still forged ahead to create something beautiful, not knowing exactly how or even why at times. Music is a gift, as evidenced even in the most difficult times, so it seemed fitting that this album, which came together in a dark chapter, should teeter between the imperative and the desire to believe that things will be better. The thing we can always cling to is hope, however difficult that may at times feel; what better vehicle to deliver that hope than music? 


Thank-you David Travers-Smith for your dedication and for patiently interpreting our written and spoken communication as beautiful sound.  Thanks to Davide, Mark, and Roberto for the creativity and enthusiasm they bring to our music. Thanks to all of the various recording studios and staff who recorded us in addition to David Travers-Smith, especially Jeff Wolpert, Jeremy Bernard, Roberto Occhipinti, Sydney Galbraith, and James Clemons-Seely.  Thanks to Camille Gladu-Drouin for her creative photography, and to Stefan Verna for his vision for our Any Other Way video.  Thanks to Frank Nagy for the photographs that inspired the cover painting and for capturing the painting itself, and to Larry Davidson at D’Addario Canada for the strings we photographed.

ES:MO is more than a musical duo, it is a tribute to the deep friendship between the two of us and our families.  Huge thanks to our respective spouses who are connected to our work as well as being the anchors in our lives, Johan Hultqvist (Pinwheel Music) for his insight, support and consultation, and Cidalia Lopes for her inspired cover painting.  Thanks to our children for their love and inspiration, Gianluca Occhipinti, and the four October daughters Bea and Lili Occhipinti, and Sanna and Alma Hultqvist-Shepherd.

A variety of people have helped ES:MO get to this point, too many to list, but thank-you to Roberto Occhipinti for welcoming us into the Modica Music family, to Bernie Finkelstein for his input on this album, and to Matteo Ruperto and Max di Domenicus for sharing your beautiful promo video and photos from Rome. To all the faithful presenters and colleagues out there who invite us to tour year after year in Canada, Italy, Germany and beyond - we’d like to thank each of you for believing in the music, and for keeping art alive through these wild times. See you on the other side.


released October 29, 2021

Elizabeth Shepherd - vocals, pianos, OP 1 and MOOG synthesizers, synth percussion, vocal loops.
Michael Occhipinti - guitars, electric bass, cat toy and cardboard box percussion, backup vocals, loops and guitar effect magic.  
Roberto Occhipinti - acoustic bass on Any Other Way, Riverman, Visions, Lord of The Starfields, Wondering Where The Lions Are
Davide Direnzo - drums and percussion on Visions, Riverman, Lord Of The Starfields, drums and backup vocals on Wondering Where The Lions Are
Mark McLean - drums on Any Other Way
David Travers-Smith - bells and bowls

All songs arranged by Elizabeth Shepherd and Michael Occhipinti

Produced by Elizabeth Shepherd, Michael Occhipinti, and David Travers-Smith

Edited, Mixed, and Mastered by David Travers-Smith


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Modica Music Toronto, Ontario

Modica Music is a label based in Toronto , Canada.

With Jazz, Classical and world music projects produced by Roberto Occhipinti

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