Mon, Oct 8, 2012.
This Old Man goes for a broader sound on his latest, trekking to Nashville and working with bluegrass star Tim O'Brien. The multi-instrumentalist adds plenty of complementary strings, as well as more big-time bluegrass players holding down the bass and drums. It's not so much a bigger sound than Luedecke has had in the past, just more streamlined into the bluegrass sound. Songs that in the past might have relied only on his banjo now come with complimentary fiddle weaving or sympathetic mandolin. And when he gets going on the more upbeat numbers, that classic stand-up bass drives it along.
The usual charm and humour hasn't been affected. The best example of that, and for sure a live classic to come, is A&W Song, our singer "In a bar downtown, trying to get my head right", and the late-night food run being contemplated. First he's gotta get to the Scotiabank ATM.. you know the drill. Those classic sing-along choruses are here too; I'm Fine (I Am, I Am) will have us all repeating that line soon.
Luedecke continues to work within the classic idea of folk music, but moving forward with his unique personality and observations. He doesn't have a problem with 2012 (heck, he was the one who suggested the A&W run) but he loves the good things about tradition. This May Hurt A Bit echoes the vocals of Roger Miller, a nice tip of the hat. Especially smart is his tribute to our national music hero, in Song For Ian Tyson. And his update of Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms throws out almost all of the original, in favour of lines such as "Flatt & Scruggs on the Sony Walkman/Never heard of Randy Bachman".
Is there any worry our favourite has gone all Nashville on us here? Hardly. Just count the blatant Canadian references above; you can't pass that stuff off on the insular American public. No, I think it's just that he wanted to make a solid album with good people and a little more accompaniment, and this is a great team for that. There's more of what we love about him, and a few more instruments, is all.
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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).