Borealis Recording Company
225 Sterling Road, Unit 19
Toronto, ON M6R 2B2 Canada
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 5/02
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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It starts with the initial note of the first cut. Electric guitar and driving percussion immediately kick in on "Dan McPhee." Wait a minute, there must be some sort of mixup. Okay, try the second selection,"The Old Troubador." The result: same electric guitar in the background and drums driving the rhythm. What's going on here?
Move to the third offering, "Michipicoten,"--a delicate, piano-backed tune. Ah, yes, now this is the James Gordon we have come to expect and enjoy.
How about "Virginia's Day," cut four? There's that electric guitar again, featured this time.
Well, the explanation is that James Gordon, while remaining a smoothly melodic tale-teller, has gone folk-edgy. He's expanded his repertoire by creating a new sound for himself and utilizing it on various cuts throughout his latest release, "One Timeless Moment."
Do not fret. This is not the blare of blazing guitar riffs that will send listeners scurrying for ear protectors. But it is enough to add a level of intensity and depth to the aforementioned songs that would be missing otherwise. Heck, on "Funny Old World," Gordon even appears to dip into a reggae and steel drum sound.
But, as always, there are the compelling stories.
A singer-songwriter meltdown occurs in "The Old Troubador." The performer in the title is simply tapped out as Gordon sings:
"...There was a quiver in his voice,"Michipicoten" presents a magical moment and mystical journey, this one in a car traveling from Grand Marais to Agawa Bay:
There was a trembling in his legs
In the heat of the spotlight
His pain spilled out on the stage
His song teetered on the wire
then it plunged to its death
The old troubador had nothing left..."
"...Secrets were revealed to us,With a harrowing depiction of mental illness in "Virginia's Day," Gordon opens with:
though not a word was spoken,
All the way from Grand Marais,
the spell could not be broken
The light through the birches flickered like flames
And the wind through those trees whispered a name
With a voice we both had long ago forgotten
calling Michipicoten, Michopicoten
In that northern Superior night..."
"A fistful of pills, that's how Virginia's day beginsHe does, however, close the tune on a more upbeat note.
She calls it her breakfast of champions
She doesn't like them, says they take a little off the top
They dull her senses, she wishes she could stop
But she knows if she did she'd go straight
To the bottom, pulled deep down by a weight
So heavy that she could never climb back..."
Gordon also puts in various appearances along the relationship spectrum with "Unspoken," "Rapunzel," "Sing With Me," "Sunset Song" and "How Many Mistakes?"
"A Really Lousy Winter Day" deserves mention if for no other reason than the great opening line: "March came in like a cockroach, and it hung around for weeks..."
The verdict: this consummate professional has stretched his wings and we are the richer for it. Those familiar with his previous work should take to the familiar and the new. Newcomers won't know the difference and will enjoy the variety.
Gordon, on vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, piano, banjo and harmonica, is supported by Sandy Horse on backup vocals and bass; Scott merritt on electric guitar and keyboards; Peter Von Althen on drums and percussion; Dennis Rondeau on double bass; Evan Gordon on organ, Marion Linton on violin and Katherine Thompson on cello.
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