Tuesday, March 8, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: BRUCE COCKBURN - SMALL SOURCE OF COMFORT
Thirty albums in, you know you're going to get high quality from Cockburn, so that means the real question is what's different? It would be churlish to look at what's the same, and it's easy to be bitchy after so long. Yes, there's an instrumental every three or four songs. Yes, he went somewhere war-torn (Afghanistan) and wrote about it. Yes, his songs have that jazzy, fast plucking with the droning bass note first, his usual style. Same old, same old then?
See, just turn all that around. That same old style is certainly one of the unique, individual examples of excellence in the guitar world. There's few artists that can mix in such fluidity while maintaining the structure of a well-crafted song, and fewer still that fuse world, jazz, folk and rock into something new. There's few that boil down the world's complexities into something easy to digest in four minutes, and still have something important to say. Few that would dare do it, too, few that have the conviction and the willingness to set themselves up as a target. And how many today know how to put priority on the instrumental track, can come up with different sounds for up to five of the fourteen cuts, where you don't feel ripped off?
So, back to what's new: He's co-writing, a couple of cuts with Annabelle Chvostek, ex-Wailin' Jenny. There's violin all over the disc, even on the instrumentals. Cockburn says much of the music came from being in urban apartments and going on long-distance drives, which resulted in more acoustic folk cuts, and yes, this is a gentler album, no rocket launchers, more coldest night of the year. The co-writes are two of the sweeter numbers, aided by Chvostek's harmonies. Placed in the middle of the disc, they break things up nicely, and the acoustic guitar and mandolin take us back to the mid-70's Cockburn a little, never a bad thing. The most interesting cut has to be Call Me Rose, which Cockburn says came to him in a dream. In short, Richard Nixon is reincarnated as a low-income single mom, but knows who he is, and hopes to rehabilitate his image. I may be going out on a limb here, but I think that may be a new songwriting topic.
There's not much flash on this album, but there's style and flair and class. Ya, same old-same old.
LOOK! A Canadian tour!
MAR 24 KELOWNA BC COMMUNITY THEATRE
MAR 25 VANCOUVER BC CHAN CENTRE
MAR 26 VICTORIA BC McPHERSON PLAYHOUSE
MAR 27 NANAIMO BC PORT THEATRE
MAR 30 CALGARY AB JUBILEE THEATRE
MAR 31 BANFF AB ERIC HARVIE THEATRE
APR 1 EDMONTON AB WINSPEAR THEATRE
APR 2 PRINCE ALBERT SK RAWLINSON CENTRE
APR 3 SASKATOON SK TCU PLACE
APR 5 WINNIPEG MB BURTON CUMMINGS THEATRE
APR 6 THUNDER BAY ON COMMUNITY AUDITORIUM
APR 8 KINGSTON ON GRAND THEATRE
APR 9 TORONTO ON MASSEY HALL
APR 10 NORTH BAY ON CAPITAL THEATRE
APR 12 ST. CATHARINES ON SEAN O'SULLIVAN THEATRE
APR 13 MONTREAL QC L'ASTRAL
APR 14 MONTREAL QC L'ASTRAL
APR 15 OTTAWA ON NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE
APR 16 KITCHENER ON CENTRE IN THE SQUARE