Y'know, it's more than a little sardonic that Bruce Cockburn should even have to be reviewed any more. One should only have to drop a line—"Hey! He's got a new CD out!"—and that should be sufficient to the wider world to hit the record shop and throw down the bucks necessary to procure each gem. From Day One, this guy has provided nothing but top-notch, intriguing, gorgeously crafted releases that hit a zenith in artistry and stayed there. Still, we humans tend to forgetfulness and taking things for granted; thus, critics must e'er quite happily put pen to paper as an excuse to immerse in wonder, relaying the result to readers only too happy to consume both word and note.
Small Source of Comfort is Cockburn's 31st disc and, not one to rest on his laurels, the Canadian gentleman is forever tweaking expectations and coming up with shockers (as with a past bomb-burst, If I had a Rocket Launcher) and wry twists (Call Me Rose here chronicles Richard Nixon's reincarnation as a lower class mother living in the projects with two kids). Then, as though giving the audience time to ponder the implications, he launches into a display of very well favored guitarmanship in the instrumental Bohemian 3-Step, as sorcerous an exposition as could be expected from anyone. Ah, but this time out, that cut's only one in a trove of five instrumentals, an unusual tack for the stringbender-singer.
Part of the credit for all this must also go to Colin Linden, musician/producer wunderkind, and violinist Jenny Scheinman (Bill Frisell, Norah Jones, etc.) who measurably boost Cockburn's craftsmanship and recall the old days when Martynec and others abetted the minstrel…though, as golden as that period was, Bruce has evolved into newer fields, weaving ever more hypnotic tapestries, broadening with the time invested. Don't be too put off by his scowling countenance on the cover; everything about his work is eminently approachable though the man himself is never fooled by the illusion of the world nor its siren lures, inditing and indicting them relentlessly, refusing to mellow out philosophically, as incisive and visionary as ever, an anchor in a world just now discovering the true price of long-term self-deception.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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