Thursday, May 10, 2012


That the venerable and iconic Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent is a poet comes as a bit of surprise; that he's a good one even more.  But the biggest thrill of all is how nicely the words became songs, as prepared by craftsmen Travis Good (The Sadies) and Greg Keelor (Blue Rodeo, duh).  The result is a fine, very listenable album that only adds another superlative to the admirable careers of all three.

Pinsent wrote the poems over the years, some inspired by his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and some others about his late wife.  Good was involved next, asked to look at the lyrics by a filmmaker doing a bio of Pinsent.  Keelor, a long-time Good buddy, nosed his way in when he saw what Travis was working on.   Of course, they make a good team, Keelor bringing a soulful voice to the party, and his classic feel.

The double-disc presents the songs/poems in two ways, and it's a smart concept.  Disc one is just Good and Keelor, singing them as full tunes.  Disc two has Pinsent reading them as poems, over acoustic backing by the duo, far more sparse than the singing versions.  I like 'em both.  Pinsent has an expert's cadence and timing, and the stories are quite enjoyable.  Over on disc one, the boys share vocals, although Greg gets a bit more, while Good rips it up on acoustic, sending out sizzling licks in the bluegrass-flavoured numbers, and coming on as smooth as silk on the ballads.  Keelor sounds as rough and ready as Pinsent's Newfoundland characters.

The pair plan to tour the songs this fall, and the chance to see them in a largely acoustic setting will be a joy.  Meantime, I suggest strapping on the headphones, putting on disc two for a half-hour, and enjoying the poetry of Pinsent, as you would a book-on-tape.

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