Music Review: Jim Dorie - Ghosts Of Pictou County

Jim Dorie is a Nova Scotia singer-songwriter with wonderful instincts for storytelling. Folk-based, he's a favourite co-writer of Dave Gunning's, with some of their material showing up on his latest, and a couple more featured here. And Dorie's no slouch on his own, with the bulk of the numbers here featuring his own wit and wisdom.

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Produced by none other than J.P. Cormier, the picking is impeccable, with Dorie on the acoustic, and Cormier everything else, including fiddle, mandolin, banjo and harmonies. But there isn't a moment when I thought it was a Cormier album. Dorie's stories carry your thoughts straight through.

It isn't a typical Maritime album. Yes, you'll find small towns, even a number about the mills and fishing villages closing down, but there's far more universal stuff here. People who struggle through life and grow old and lonely; husbands and wives who grow distant but stay together. There's even a murder ballad. The stories are set in common places, like a paint and body shop, or a small, poor home, the kind of building you drive past and don't consider. Dorie does though, and knows there's drama in there, too.

It's a powerful mixture, this blend of nostalgia and tribulation. We're taken back to, say, old movie theatres in "For Viola", where we can smell the popcorn and feel the real wooden floor. Those memories comfort us. But it's a song about the idiotic racism of that time, jarring us out of that reverie, reminding all that there are always people struggling, and we should look out for each other a lot more.

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About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob 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).

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