Bruce Cockburn: Small Source of Comfort (True North)

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Bruce Cockburn: Driving Away
Bruce Cockburn: Small Source of Comfort (True North)

Bruce Cockburn – whose sole skirmish with chart success was Wondering Where The Lions Are in 1980 – is the Richard Thompson of Canada. And if you don't get the reference that's the point.

Both are respected and influential folk-rock songwriters/guitarists, but their gifts go largely unacknowledged beyond admiring musicians, the critical community and a loyal fan base. Cockburn is profiled here.

So another year, another Cockburn album?

Call Me Rose imagines Richard Nixon back in the body of a young girl and asks what it would take to rehabilitate his soul; the acoustic ballad Driving Away (a duet with guitarist/cowriter Annabelle Chvostek) is an almost holy moment despite opening with the line “the dichotomy of being a sentient being” but unfortunately comes to a faltering close; and Each One Lost is a moving acknowledgement of the body bags from war zones and how we are lessened by each one.

But Boundless also with Chvostek is wordy and tuneless, albeit beautifully crafted on a musical level.

Between the songs are lovely acoustic and sometimes jazzy instrumentals (notably The Comets of Kandahar) and Called Me Back (“my so-called buddy never called me back . . . he could be going through a bitter divorce or quadruple bypass”) could have come from the wryly observational pen of Loudon Wainwright.

Overall, this is a 25th studio album has breath-catching moments. Then there is the rest.

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