Thursday, November 10, 2016


It must have been a no-brainer for Cullen to take up her friend Ron Sexsmith's suggestion that he and Kurt Swinghammer write all-new songs for her to record. Not only were they all friends, they're all on the A-list of Toronto talent. So we have the beautiful jazz-folk vocalist performing 12 songs featuring Sexsmith's words and Swinghammer's compositions

The writers weren't holding back on their A-list material or ideas at all. Sexsmith comes through with some of his killer images and lines. Miracle Home offers up "We turned a house of cards into a miracle home," while "Some Part Of Me" includes "I'm tired of eyes that give it all away/Kill the surprise of living each day." Opening track The Face Of Emily is a classic bit of Sexsmith writing, the lines on a stranger's face meaning another sad story as a woman grows older, unknown to most. Heck, he even says it in the words, "It's a lonely world." But several songs here are about the celebration of love and family, including Miracle Home, New Love and Then There Were Three. More proof he's not the gloomy Gus he gets labelled far too often.

Swinghammer responded to the project by placing the songs in a 60s pop world, with lots of Bacharach and bits of Jobim. There are lots of electric keyboards and moody horns and woodwinds, clarinet and fluegelhorn parts, plus vibes and marimba to add ringing percussion. It's far away from the rock combo; instead it's the pop orchestra. Cullen's voice is a wonder, never showy or dominate but simply lovely, the sound of love and joy and warmth. This week especially, what the world needs now...

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