Gypsy Summer - Cam Penner Album Review
Some albums are so charming a lengthy review seems superfluous when writing "BUY IT NOW" should suffice. Folk troubadour Cam Penner's self produced fourth album is such a wonderful example of song writing that dissecting it feels like a violation when the splendour within should be allowed to speak for itself. However, convention dictates analysis and evaluation so colour me sadistic and read on.
Where 2009's 'Trouble and Mercy' was stripped back 'Gypsy Summer' is richly textured with string sections and a cornucopia of instrumental flourishes fleshing out the tunes without overshadowing the intimate delivery of the yarns being spun. Penner is a superlative raconteur painting vivid pictures with an eloquent lyrical economy. Thematically 'Gypsy Summer' deals with all encompassing loss, from painful heartbreak to finding our place in the world, discovering who we are and embracing love as redemption and salvation. Far from a Cohen-esque razor blade fest, the album is awash with the feeling that the good will out by keeping true to our hearts and enduring our hardships. Majestic opener 'Driftwood' finds Penner crooning 'It's gonna get worse before it gets better' on what resembles a long lost classic from the Laurel Canyon folkies of the 1960's, breezing by with blissful melancholy astride a gentle banjo and wistful heart melting harmonica. 'Gypsy Women's' twilight twanging electric guitar backs an account of lost souls searching for companionship, building to a rousing crescendo of crashing beats and bluesy six string double stop licks.
Penner's folk roots are evident throughout, particularly on the lovelorn sunset confessional 'Cool Cool Nights' and the turbulent voyage of personal discovery 'Hour of Need. Most surprising is 'My Lover and I', with its funky bass line, frisky cymbal foreplay and choppy guitar interludes providing the kind of hypnotic rhythm Otis Taylor excels at. Furthermore, 'Throw Your Hands Up' showcases a programmed drumbeat for dance floor hip shaking that celebrates the euphoria of new found love before an instrumental reprise of Driftwood revives the ambient tranquility of Fleetwood Mac's Albatross.
Throughout Penner's voice has an inviting Americana twang; simple, relaxed yet effortlessly mesmeric. His songs are poetic gold dust - deeply personal accounts of humanity's raw beauty given universal relevance by the skill and delivery of a master craftsman. In other words: "BUY IT NOW".
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