I once had dreams of hitching and rambling and catching freight trains. Sometimes, I still do. The closest I came to being a real rambler was a few months spent living in the back of a Chevy wandering Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. It was a taste that still lingers on my tongue. I look back on that experience, taking everything into account, and wonder how I managed. Then I think about the troubadours that do it for unimaginable lengths of time. Then I think about Scott Cook.
I met Scott long before I decided to venture out to Ontario in mid January without a plan. Many parts of him and his story inspired me to do so, I believe. I remembered his tunes and how I wanted to tell stories in that manner, honest truths put to song.
His latest release, Moonlit Rambles, is a new collection of tales from the trail. Scott writes what he knows best, and as a veteran of the road, his lyrics resonate with me like few others. Even though they're written about different people in different places, Cook's songs are relatable on many levels. I feel that traveling by one's self concentrates many feelings, allowing for reflection, and understanding. This gives the songwriter the ability to spell out some unknown confusions to the listener, like an emotional interpreter.
Along with Cook's song writing, the album's musicianship also shines. Tasteful guitar fills and subtle drums accompany his thick raspy voice so well. Finding the perfect balance between blues, country, folk, and soul, Cook's versatility is evident and strong.
Moonlit Rambles could be enjoyed on the stereo during a campfire get together, or during moments of solitude. It fits any occasion, so pick it up and throw it on once in a while. www.scottcook.net
Twice the Usual
To be a musician means many things to many people. Some do it to be famous, some do it because they're talented, some do it for fun and some because they have a story to tell. Thom Barker had stories to tell, and chose music to be the vehicle.
Written mainly in the 90's, Twice the Usual, is a collection of songs and stories that span two decades of Barker's Career. Although performing seemed to never be his day job, Barker diligently released music throughout the 90's. Twice the Usual is a testament to Barker's poetic nature.
Recorded down in Austin, TX, Barker laid down the base tracks and headed back for Canada, leaving his brother Ken and guitarist Christian Chenier to labour over the instrumentation and details. Barker's powerful voice throws heavy lyrics into the mix of acoustic guitar, bass, and drums. There's a pretty standard ensemble at work here, but the thing that really irks me is the use of a programmed electronic drum track. Maybe because it was still relatively new(ish) technology in the 90's? I don't know. I can't get passed it. I feel that it subtracts a certain level of professionalism from the overall album. But, all in all, I think that is my only major complaint about Twice the Usual.
Barker is another example of a great Canadian songwriter and really knows how to put words and music together. I'm not sure where you can pick up Twice the Usual but word on the street is Barker is getting back in to solo performing. Keep an ear to the ground for dates around Yorkton.