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Bruck Cockburn preview

| August 23, 2006 | 0 Comments

Bruce Cockburn
Old Town School Of Folk Music
Friday, August 25, 2006
Saturday, August 26, 2006

Thirty-five year vet Bruce Cockburn has rarely risen above a curiosity in the U.S. — something we wish could be said for Barenaked Ladies and Sum 41 — despite never really having a dud. If you’ve been waiting, however, he’s in peak form on this summer’s Life Short Call Now (Rounder).

The Canadian drafts some similarly ignored-in-the-States musicians Hawksley Workman and Ron Sexsmith (Sam Roberts and The Tragically Hip were busy) for his 23rd studio album, which can simply be described as a finely aged singer-songwriter with a full band. But things aren’t so simple. Songs like “Mystery” and “This Is Baghdad” feature a 27-piece orchestra, while relatively scaled-back numbers like “See You Tomorrow” utilize Ani DiFranco’s harmonies to bring relief to an otherwise agitaged tune.

Lyrically Cockburn brings his A game, and taps his vast introspective powers. Having spent time in Baghdad, the aforementioned song protests but isn’t a raging tirade at the Bush Administration or an exploitation tale, it’s an epitaph: “Everything’s broken in the birthplace of law . . . Carbombed and carjacked and kidnapped and shot.” He shows uncanny tact by neglecting to affix words to instrumentals entitled “Peace March” and “Jerusalem Poker,” though they are undeniably shaped by those names. It’s when he’s examining himself, however, Cockburn really spreads out. On “Different When It Comes To You,” he serves a backhanded compliment to his commitment by brushing off a potential fling, and fantasizes about an assassin’s guilt-free conscience before coming to terms on “See You Tomorrow.”

America’s apathy is the best thing for him.

Kevin Keegan

Click here for a Real Audio sample of “Mystery.”

Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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