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Luke Doucet – Broken (And Other Rogue States)

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 7/25

I should probably turn in my Canadian citizenship card for admitting that this is the first Luke Doucet album I’ve ever owned. I know. It’s pathetic. He’s another one of those ones I always meant to get to, and just never have… until now. I got this disc from the 3-for-$10 bin at BMV.

NB: I really wish BMV wouldn’t use 4 pricing stickers on each CD, or at least not these impossible-to-remove ones that they currently have. It’s hard enough to remove them from a plastic CD case, but on a digipak like this album, it’s just ridiculous. 

Wiki tells me that this whole album is about “the heartbreak of a failed relationship.” I agree! Also, it was nominated for a Juno Award in 2006. Cool! Alright, the music.

Brother is slinky, bluesy, and absolutely riveting. If you think it’s plodding and goes nowhere, you’re not listening nearly close enough! Lots of cool bits here that make it a great album opener. Broken One is a pretty, memorable melody masquerading as a country-pop tune. “…but you’ve gotta have a heart to have a broken one…” Oh man what a great line.

The wonderfully-named Stumbling Gingerly Back To Emily’s Apartment is a weird little drum machine and other elements (even a kid on an answering machine) intermission that melds perfectly into the country roadhouse bar gorgeousness of Emily, Please. I loved this one.

Lucky Strikes is a sweet pop tune about finding your way away from a bad relationship Hansel and Gretel-style, using cigarettes. Yes. Then we go into the folk pickin’ of Wallow, another tune that is just great storytelling and songwriting. Why, oh why have I not been into this guy all along? Alas.

It’s Not The Liquor I Miss is a strummy pop tune with electric guitar support and (yes) hand claps. There’s something breezy about the whole thing, it’s a sweet confection indeed. One Too Many brings us back to the bluesy stomp feel, which lends itself well to the song’s contents of maybe having that one too many drinks.

Vladivostok is not your typical Canadian pop song writing material… It’s a bouncy tune with cool little jazzy breakdowns and a cool melody line. I wouldn’t have credited it possible, but here it is! And then we roll into If I Drop Names, a short intro which lightly leads us into the bright pop tune called Free. The organ is perfect, and so are the backing vocals. I could hear Hawksley Workman singing this one, actually.

No Love To Be Made Here Now is an achingly beautiful tune, slow and melancholy and absolutely real. This was fantastic. And finally it’s Keep Her Away From Me, a blues stomper worthy of Bob Log III and R.L. Burnside in duet. I loved it, but I might not have let this short one end the album. I’d have preferred No Love… as the album closer. Ah well. No one ever asks me these things and then it’s too late.

In Sum:

By this album alone, I can tell you that Luke Doucet is an incredible, versatile songwriter who exhibits intelligence and humour. Get this. Get them all (I presume)!

SLCR #155: Luke Doucet and The White Falcon (November 8, 2010)

The Riders just scored their first touchdown of the Western Finals. In a shocking reversal from the norm, they waited to score until I came in from shoveling. Usually, me paying attention to a game will ensure a Rider loss. I’d say “you’re welcome” but I really should wait on that until the game ends.

I can bandwagon-hop with the best of them, but I’ve never really been a big sports fan. Only a few years ago, I skipped the Riders’ most recent Grey Cup win. But Mika lives here now, and she’s decided that in order to have something to discuss with the Reginans, she’s going to be a football fan. I didn’t know you could turn that on and off – I tried with hockey in high school, but it didn’t take – but regardless, I admire the ingenuity here. If there’s one thing you can talk about to anyone in Regina, it’s the Riders.

I told Mark (from work) about Mika’s plan to make friends, and he thought it sounded sad. Maybe he doesn’t like football? He pointed out that we’d go do stuff, like see concerts. We’d just been to see the Odds not long before, and there would be other opportunities.

For example, this past week, we were going to go see Jason Collett. But then Mika had a work get-together that night, and I was half-dead from the day’s shoveling, as well as from working until 4:00 a.m. earlier in the week. This is why you’re not getting a Jason Collett review, and it’s partially why this review is so late. So it goes. At least the other James (from work) got to use one of our tickets. Mark was going to go with him, but that day, someone launched a decorative lantern through his window and made off with his laptop, which I’d have to think would suck pretty hard.

But before everything went bonkers, work-wise and Mark’s house-wise, we did make it out to see Luke Doucet at the Exchange. I’d seen Doucet once before, a few years ago, on a show where he wound up outshone by Shout Out Out Out Out, a dance music collective that I’d never heard of, had no interest in seeing, and who utterly stole the show. Also, it was Halloween, Rob stole a crow, some dude told me I was gen-yoo-WINE, and the bands promised to pee themselves on stage if everyone danced in unison. We had a lot going on that evening.

Since that night, Luke Doucet has put out a pair of CDs that I really enjoyed. Mika saw him again, but I hadn’t had the chance, so I was really looking forward to this.

Doors were set for 8:00. Sometime around 8:05, I got a text from James asking if we’d secured a table yet. We had not – we also hadn’t, technically, managed to leave the house yet, so Mark and James, joined by Grant (from work), made it to the Exchange before us. They’d been at Bushwakker’s for something called First Firkin Friday (it involves a pipe band) (and beer) so they were within walking distance. They snagged us a table so it worked out well.

The opening act was called The Sunparlour Players, a three-piece self-described alternative folk act (personally, I would have tried to fit the word “roots” in there somewhere, but I will go with the genres listed on their MySpace). Nobody at our table had heard of these guys, but they got quite the enthusiastic reaction from James and Mark. A CD-buying, vinyl-buying, autograph-seeking, allegedly-trying-to-hook-up-band-members-with-ladies-in-attendance reaction. It was quite the sight to behold. Musically, I thought these guys were pretty great – very entertaining – though the songs themselves weren’t really my thing.

Conversely, I thought Luke Doucet was pretty fantastic, but Mark considered him to be a one-man show (though I think Mark thoroughly enjoyed said one-man show). And sure, Doucet’s backing band, The White Falcon, really were there to back him up; there was no denying who was the focal point.

Having said that, the “one-man band” comment wasn’t entirely fair. We had Luke Doucet, sure, but we also had Hat Man (not from work). See, at one point, Doucet pulled out a harmonica. He wasn’t playing it yet, he just had it at the ready. AN yet, during his next song, you could hear the harmonica. I got a little closer to the stage, and there was some dude in a hat and trenchcoat, sitting off to the side of the stage, playing harmonica. He wasn’t with the band or anything, he was just this guy who showed up and felt he could contribute. So after a few songs of this, Doucet invites Hat Man up onto the stage for a song. Hat Man holds the harmonica to his lips, flutters his hands like he’s doing some really fancy harmonica playing, and… no sound comes out. Whenever he’d lean into the mic, he’d make sure to cover the harmonica with both hands. Every so often, he’d play one audible note. Dude was a fake harmonica player. It was the damndest thing. He also looked like he didn’t want to leave once his song was done, but he got told.

Aside from that brief, if fascinating, interlude, we really just got a really solid show. And now the Riders won and they’re going to the Grey Cup again. You’re welcome.

Actually, they won about five days ago and it took me this long to finish the review because I couldn’t think of anything else to say about this show. I got to “Aside from that brief, if fascinating, interlude” and ran out of words, so I’m throwing in the towel. I think three weeks is my limit to work on one of these things. Luke Doucet played songs. They were good songs. Sometimes I stood up to watch him play songs and sometimes I sat down. He played a cover of Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot, as well as a bunch of his own songs that I could list if I thought it would mean anything to you, but it probably wouldn’t. I drank a Diet 7up during the show. I’d happily go see Luke Doucet again. Are you fascinated yet?

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