Its hard to believe that, on the strength of this album, Bruce Cockburn has slipped under many peoples radars in the UK for nigh on 40 years.
Admittedly, my only dalliance with this criminally over-looked poet and performer were his 80s albums, The Trouble With Normal (a mate owned a copy on cassette it sounded like it was recorded in barrel) and Big Circumstance, an album I played in the Our Price shop I was working in I remember liking it, but not enough to tear me away from my then-world of indie music. How times change.
I realise hes got quite a fevered following full of fervour for their hero, so Ill choose my words wisely as a Cockburn near-virgin.
Basically, his 31st album is pretty darned good. Kicking off with the spiritually and almost self-deprecating Iris Of The World, you immediately realise youre in good company, especially with wry observations like Im good at blowing holes in things and ranting in self-doubt and Ive got a way with time and space/but numbers freak me out blimey, I can almost relate to that.
I get the impression Cockburn is all about soul-searching, given the reflective mood of some of the songs on here. Driving Away, written with ex-Wailin Jenny Annabelle Chvostek, is a case in point with its rain-swept and furrowed brow it could almost sit on a Blue Nile album in fact. Radiance is also a rather down-beat jazz torch-song looking for a soul-mate, written by Cockburn at the wheel of his car (well, Im sure he pulled over first, law-lords).
But for every blanket of gloom, theres a chink of sunlight and Cockburn masters both very well. Humour appears in spades on Call Me Rose, a poignant tale of what Richard Nixon might be thinking if he was resurrected as a girl, while on Called Me Back he rues an unreturned phone call with the barbed line I coulda been croaking on the floor of my flat/the bugger never called me back.
Add in some measured instrumental work as on the fine Lois On The Autobahn and Bohemian 3-Step, and you have a consistently rewarding collection that demands repeated listening.