Wednesday, February 4, 2009

So this is the fate of the great north woods.

A friend of mine happened to mention this guy, this John Connolly, during a conversation about the wonders of the music of the Maritimes, and I don't think I've ever fallen in love with a musician so quickly. This is the sound of the Maritimes, coming straight out of Charlottetown. This bloke makes roots-rock, country-blues, whatever you want to call it, you know the sound. It's beautiful. The voice, it's stunning. His myspace describes him as Springsteen-esque, and I can hear it--but not the Springsteen of the "Born" songs (to Run and in the USA), the ordinary guy & his guitar Springsteen. I'm also told he's won 2008 Album of the Year at the PEI Music Awards for his self-titled record (which is brilliant), and I hope the rest of the country becomes more aware of this man and his music. His is the sort that really could have a broad appeal, the ability to jump into that sort of Gordie Sampson quasi-mainstreamivity, without changing a thing about the music.

The album is solid as a whole, but there are a few stand-out tracks. It opens on what I think is probably the best song of the genre I've heard in a long time. For Old Time's Sake is a beautiful example of what this radio programming director's son is leaning toward calling crossover-country; the breathy (and in Morgan's words, "manly") vocals on this track and all through the record is the top selling point for me, I think. He's put on here a folk ballad about the Miramichi and its current state, its current problems, I'd even call it a protest song. "This old town's being broken down since the paper mill is closed." It gives me chills, I don't even know why. The song is just so impressive in any way, so says this New Brunswicker. I suppose you'd call a lot of the music backward-looking, focussed on the near past or the distant past, and I like this, as a history major & family historian, this is the mindset I tend to take--maybe that's part of the appeal, for me.

So Morgan, thank you for turning me on to this record, this musician. It's absolutely gorgeous and I simply cannot get enough of it.

John Connolly - Indian Summer

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