A blog about music from Canada and beyond.

Long reads, short reads and bite-size bits.
Nicholas Jennings

Richard Thompson - Still

richardthompsonFew artists blend old and new-world influences better than the former leader of famed British folk-rockers Fairport Convention. His latest, produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, is a gem, full of mystical Renaissance sounds on songs like “Pony in the Saddle” and robust rock stylings, especially on “Guitar Heroes,” which pays brilliant homage to his mentors.

77 Hits
Nicholas Jennings

Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material

kaceyThe country upstart’s refreshing candor has already won her a Grammy. Musgraves doesn’t sugar-coat the songs on her delightfully frisky second studio, singing about the value of minding your own business on the playful “Biscuits” and accepting kinfolk who “might smoke like chimneys, but give you their kidneys” on the charming “Family is Family.”

71 Hits
Nicholas Jennings

Ian Tyson - Carnero Vaquero

iantysonThe heart of the Canadian songwriting legend, who gave us classics like “Four Strong Winds” and “Navajo Rug,” lies in the West and its big-sky vistas. Here, he sings of cowboys (“Will James”), ranching (“Colorado Horses”) and tragic romance with his new rendition of the touching “Darcy Farrow,” originally recorded in his Ian & Sylvia days. 

58 Hits
Nicholas Jennings

James Taylor - Before This World

jamestaylorThe 17th album from Sweet Baby James—and his first collection of new songs in 13 years—is a beauty, full of charming love songs (“You and I Again”), an ode to Toronto (“Snowtime”) and his obsession with baseball’s Boston Red Sox (“Angels of Fenway”) and a gorgeous version of the folk classic “Wild Mountain Thyme.”

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30 Hits
Nicholas Jennings

Florence and the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

florenceFlorence Welch possesses one of the biggest, bluest and, yes, most beautiful voices in pop music. Her band’s third album is the perfect showcase for her dramatic vocals and intimate lyrics, best illustrated on songs like the gospel-laced “Delilah,” the explosive rocker “What Kind of Man” and the title track with its stately brass fanfare.

34 Hits
Nicholas Jennings

Barenaked Ladies - Silverball

bnlThe Ladies’ currency has always been catchy songs that excel in clever rhymes and witty wordplay. After 27 years, the Ladies—Ed Robertson, Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn and Tyler Stewart—are at their tuneful, wisecracking best. The group’s 14th album finds the Ladies on a roll, boasting all the swagger of a group that knows its strengths. It opens with the rocking “Get Back Up,” a song about midlife resurgence that floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee with its pithy boxing metaphors. “Say What You Want” is an exuberant expression of mature confidence, while “Duct Tape Heart” uses Red Green’s favorite fix-all material to express romantic resiliency. The title track reflects Robertson’s obsession with pinball and likens the mastery of flippers and bumpers to a successful two-way relationship. The album ends on a bittersweet note, with Hearn’s heartbreaking “Tired of Fighting with You,” proving there’s depth—as well as drollness—in the Ladies’ best work.

28 Hits
Nicholas Jennings

Leonard Cohen - Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour

leonardRecorded on his recent Old Ideas World Tour, Cohen’s latest is a collection of new songs and alternate versions of older classics. Highlights include a gorgeous rendition of his 1971 song “Joan of Arc,” sung with backup singer Hattie Webb, and “Got a Little Secret,” a new bluesy number written with the icon’s signature deadpan humor.

30 Hits