Imagine my surprise when, talking to the guys backstage one year, I discovered the skullcrushing metal-prog Magellan boys were not-so-closeted Gordon Lightfoot aficionados. I remarked that Gordo was one of my own fave fetishes and, from that point on, I could do no wrong from that trio's point of view, nor could they from mine. Lightfoot's following tends to be rather adamantine in its worship of the Canadian player-singer-composer, and any who convert to the light are granted many lifetimes' absolution, joining the Cosmic Brotherhood. Well, count Tom Granata as a card-carrying front proponent now, releasing this tributary disc not a moment too soon.
There's a second coincidence here, though. The other day, I was going through the local Salvation Army and picked up a treasure: the old Reader's Digest 7-record Tumbling Tumblweeds anthology of killer cowboy songs by the original artists (Roy Rogers, The Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry, etc.), LPs and packaging in absolutely mint shape even though at least 30 years old! I damn near stroked out and went to heaven that day but made it back home. Then this disc arrived and complemented the country / folk / cowboy tone perfectly.
Granata, primarily a singer and guitar player, does everything on Left Foot, including highly crafted backing vocals, great effects, burning lead lines (Tom isn't a rocker, but when he cranks up, he smokes, just like the sessioneers Lightfoot hires), and has nailed the Canadian back woods, the American frontier, and the old Greenwich observance of the folk back catalog beautifully, putting forward his take on some of Gordon's bounteous menu, concentrating on the lesser known numbers while including such treasures as the Canadian Railroad Trilogy—again, as a one-man ensemble (guitars, bass, slide, vocals, piano, drums, b. vox, etc.). Quite impressive.
Granata reaches his most Lightfootesque vocal timbre in Does Your Mother Know and never really strays all that far from the originals while managing a distinctive stamp throughout. Talking in your Sleep has remained one of the most unusually wrenching songs Gordon ever wrote, and Granata gives it an Austin Texas feel, gruffer than Lightfoot's own but affecting, the puzzled lament of a hard-working trucker who discovers his efforts are not being supported within the family as he'd hoped. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Left Foot Lightfoot is a disc I know Lightfoot himself will enjoy. The guy has been criminally overlooked as a critic's milestone, scamped his due in overviews and histories, and yet has sold as prolifically and written as beautifully as anyone you might suggest as an icon. Granata's disc is along the lines of Kacey Jones' Sings Mickey Newbury (here): long overdue praise for undersung giants.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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