Fri, Aug 24, 2012.
You gotta love Stompin' Tom. Still doing it, still making new albums, and you can tell his heart is in it. Plus, it gives me great delight to see him still credit himself as producer as Dr. Stompin' Tom, the honorary degree bestowed on him by St. Thomas University, right here in my hometown.
This time out, Tom's taking it way back, to the style of music he would have heard growing up. Aside from four of his own new ones, the other 13 cuts are vintage, mostly traditional, and the kind of tunes that were played in parlours and dance halls in simpler times. There's some Wilf Carter and Hank Snow, the old Rose Of Tralee, some drinking songs, a train or two, a pirate song, and a yodel. You can't call it country, because it's more pre-country, simply the popular music of the day in more rural areas. Tom puts his own spin on several, coming up with some new lyrics, including a rewrite of the tune Make Yourself At Home, where he welcomes any lonely soul to drop by, because "there's lots of beer upon my shelf/Just walk over and help yourself." And while he keeps the words to Whiskey In The Jar pretty much as is, his brand-new arrangement drops the Irish and makes it a knee-slapper. Of the new ones, Tom shows he's still listening to the working folks of Canada, with May Flower Love about a Nova Scotia guy who has to leave his love behind as he goes out to Fort McMurray for work.
There's absolutely nothing polished or fancy on this album. It's some decent musicians at best, gamely hanging on to the tempo, with a singer who is an acquired taste. Of course, we acquired that taste long ago, so it's always a joy to hear Connors have another go at it. Plus, he has something no one else has, that amazing personality.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).