This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 11/00
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
send me an email message
The secret is out. There are two James Gordons. The historical and cultural folk tale teller and the socially conscious, more reflective singer-songwriter. This retrospective release is generally split along these lines. The first offering, consisting of cuts from his days in the group Tamarack, primarily presents a musical history of the lives of miners, farmers, soldiers, fisherman and fur traders from Canada's past.
He opens with a powerful, a cappella version of "Frobisher Bay," a tune about whalers stranded in the Arctic ice. "Oh Klondike" depicts the seductive lure but chancy prospects of those afflicted with gold fever. "No Herring left in the Bay" frames the effects on community stability when a way of life dissipates. The difficulty of the farming life in northern Ontario is wistfully pictured in "Fields of Rock and Stone:"
"...You clear the fields, you build the barn and you toil behind the plow"Pawpine" is a sorrowfully true tale of an African native's failed and foiled attempts at repatriation. Kidnapped from Senegal and sold into slavery, he fights through two wars, is finally freed and granted a plot Canadian land. But he never returns to his homeland:
And all you've got to show for it is the sweat upon your brow
The farming's just too hard, you'll never reap what you can sow
And all that you will ever grow is fields of rock and stone..."
"...And in his dreams he still lives by the Gambia shoreThe second offering primarily hones in on personal and societal issues. "Without You," a cut about separation, opens with:
Not the frozen grey Grand by his cabin door
Though they said he was free, still his heart stayed in chains..."
"I busy myself when I'm out on the roadExcoriating the ominous effects of corporate giants setting up shop in and around smaller towns, Gordon sings in "Back Before Wal-Mart:"
With Zen and the art of counting hydro poles
And I'm getting pretty good at not letting it show
That it's harder and harder the longer I go
"Back before Wal-Mart came to townA harrowing description of a war veteran's post traumatic stress disorder permeates "Harry In The Hole." "Hockey Town" laments the privilege afforded the small town sports stars who get away with abusive acts because they provide diversion and entertainment for community residents. "There Is No Silent Night," a not-so-jolly Christmas tune, contains the powerful chorus:
This was a going concern
On Fridays folks would come around
And spend their pay where it was earned
Well the hardware store was first to go
Those prices just got way too low
Soon the other stores were closed
And the lights went out on main street
Whatever happened to our little town
Wal-Mart has run it into the ground
Generations of hopes and dreams are all
Sitting down in a bank in Arkansas..."
"...Maybe when you've decked your hallsOn the lighter side, the playful "Looking For Livingstone" is a clever and fun cut. Gordon sings:
Everything's all right. All is calm and all is bright
But in the dark where the flocks are no longer watched
And we're all kept out of sight
We don't sleep in heavenly peace, there is no silent night..."
"...Oh there's a deep dark continentGordon has a pleasing, enjoyable voice and is backed by a multitude of instruments throughout this release. This is the release for both those unfamiliar with Gordon's work to date and those who prefer 'Best Of' compilations.
Between what I said and what I meant
it's as big as an elephant
The space between us when I try to talk to you
We hunt the wild thesaurus, you can hear his mighty roar
He is standing before us, he is screaming metaphors
Oh now this language is so unexplored, I fear I am lost
I don't know what I'm saying anymore, how will I get across..."
Copyright © 1998-2015 Kevin & Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews. All rights reserved.
Ownership, copyright and title of this folk music CD review belongs to me, Kevin McCarthy. Ownership, copyright and title are not transferable or assignable to you or other parties regardless of how or if you or other parties use, copy, save, backup, store, retrieve, transmit, display, publish, modify or share the CD review in whole or in part. Please read the "Terms, Conditions & Disclaimer" section on my web site for additional information about using, quoting, or reprinting this CD review.
Send inquiries to: send me an email message.
Return to Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews home page.
To return to the last web page you visited, click the "Back" button that appears immediately below: