Today seems to be my day for keeping promises made in earlier reviews. And it’s all good, because it means I get to listen to awesome albums over again and then write about them. How cool is that? (all together now) Pretty damn cool! Exactly.
Anyway, I’d said I’d tell you my thoughts on Paul MacLeod’s album, Close And Play and boy have I ever got a head full of thoughts about this one. As you may recall, MacLeod is a singer/songwriter who does awesome solo stuff, plays with the Skydiggers, and plays with a band called Hibakusha as well. We used to go see him play solo in Kitchener, in the cavernous, curvy-walled basement of the Walper Pub… ah yes, I can see recognition dawning on your face. You remember. Good work, Grasshopper.
So, I’ll admit I felt a bit of trepidation when I first bought this record. It had nothing to do with the man himself. I think he’s a brilliant song-writer, musician and singer. He should be hugely popular in this country and beyond. No argument there. What got to me a bit was that for this record there was a band with him, other instruments and maybe other voices and, well, I was so used to seeing him play solo that I thought the beauty of it all would be wrecked by complicating things.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Silly, silly me.
First of all, I should have remembered that the excellence of his songs means that no matter what arrangement they are in, they’ll still kick ass. They’ll still say something important. And the music itself didn’t suffer also because his cohort in all of this awesomeness was none other than Hawksley Workman, another Canadian musician who should be lauded from all corners, loudly and constantly. Such a great pairing. Hawksley engineered, mixed, co-produced and played on this album. What a dream.
The original songs here are so good, especially Listen Mary and Broken Wing, and… oh hell, I should just say they’re all worth every second. It’s totally true. The poetry just keeps on coming, and you find yourself paying attention to every word as each story unfolds. The guitar parts remain fascinating and percussive as well. And there’s even a couple of tracks from the Tell The Band To Go Home EP that make a re-appearance here, Cruelty and Giants, both of which grew up into handsome pieces indeed, what with the addition of Hawksley’s talent for understanding what was needed and then providing it perfectly.
I even loved the cover art, with that old-looking picture on the inside, of the woman sitting next to the record player and London Calling substituted into her hand. Haha. The look on her face makes the picture priceless.
Start to finish, this one’s a gem. I’m telling you now, go get this record if you don’t have it already. You can send me your effusive thanks and “you were SO rights” for instructing you thusly at your leisure.
…Oh yeah, and I just went and ordered the Hibakusha album today, so when it comes in I’ll review it here too, of course. See? More promises! It’s what keeps ya coming back for more, isn’t it!