This one's been hanging around for a while, and I've missed the Canadian singer-songwriter's UK tour earlier this year by some margin, but it's worth catching up on this release now.
Gordie's sixth album release presents a varied selection of songs dealing with triumph, heartache and redemption in his own inimitable way. He sings and plays guitar, dobro, harmonica and porchboard bass with expert backing from producer Bob Hamilton (bass, 12-string, pedal and lap steel, mandolin), with Aiden Tentrees, Fabian Brook and Patrick Hamilton and some harmony vocals from Catherine Maclellan.
The clear-textured recording both suits Gordie's songs and the untutored, slightly chirpy timbre of his voice, while not subscribing to the literal dictum of the disc's title with any comparable sparseness of texture or content. The songs themselves are attractively wry and welcomely thought-provoking, tough reflections on life and love, whatever their ostensible theme or subject - wrong towns, lost guitars, dead beat dads, defeated boxers (Gordie himself was once a boxer, as well as a teacher). Broken heroes and losers from all walks of life and taking in all aspects of human existence.
Gordie's songs celebrate the realities of life in all its manifestations, rather like those of his musical mentors - who doubtless include Prine, Van Zandt and Mary Gauthier, the latter providing the album with its one cover, the laconic Camelot Hotel, which sits well in the company of Gordie's own compositions. Top-drawer songwriting, with apposite and genuinely interesting (if sometimes slightly oddball) instrumental arrangements that range from plaintive electric twang to zany bluegrass.
All told, this is a persuasive and unexpectedly charming experience that I'm glad to've had, albeit belatedly. As an interesting aside, the disc's title song was written in Holland after sleeping in the same bed as Van Zandt on his last European tour… now that's spooky! Yeah, it's well worth checking Gordie out…
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