Gordon Lightfoot Book, Music and More!

The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.

Feature Article: K’naan - from the streets of Mogadishu to the world stage

Feature Article: K’naan - from the streets of Mogadishu to the world stage
The Dusty Foot Philosopher has come a long way from the bullet-strafed streets of Mogadishu. The Somali-Canadian emcee is now an aspiring novelist and filmmaker whose life story, set in war-torn Somalia, will soon become a major motion picture. For his new hip-hop album, the genre-stretching Troubadour, K’naan traveled to Jamaica, recorded in Tuff Gong Studio and spent time chillin’ in Bob Marley’s Kingston home with his youngest son, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley. The late reggae legend’s spirit was everywhere—even in the furniture. “I’d go into the living room, where there was this incredible sofa, and people said I should try lying on it,” recalls K’naan. “I’m a terrible insomniac. But lying d...
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Cover Story: Joel Plaskett and the magic of 3

Cover Story: Joel Plaskett and the magic of 3
To open a recording studio and launch a record label in these days of economic uncertainty takes confidence. To release your own triple album at the same time requires something more like audacity. Yet Joel Plaskett, who clearly believes that good things come in threes, has done exactly that. The Nova Scotia musician, an indie-rock hero since his Thrush Hermit days in the 1990s, hatched the ambitious plan last year after finding a recording space in his hometown of Dartmouth and purchasing some old analog equipment. The studio, which he named Scotland Yard, enabled Plaskett to produce several local artists for release on his New Scotland Records label while allowing him to record a sprawling...
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Feature Article: Santogold: Brooklyn, we go hard

Feature Article: Santogold: Brooklyn, we go hard
One of Brooklyn’s hottest exports is Santi White, the dynamic punk-electro-dub artist who performs as Santogold. Although she was born in Philadelphia, Brooklyn has been her base since launching her solo music career. According to White, the borough is the Big Apple’s funkiest asset. “It’s go the energy that is uniquely New York,” she says, “but it feels a little less jaded than Manhattan. Like there’s still a raw energy of something untapped and exciting.” The same could be said of White’s music. Her debut album, Santogold, offers some of the most dynamic sounds around, from the pulsing beats and razor-sharp guitars of “L.E.S. Artistes” to the shrill vocals and swooping synthetic bass of “C...
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Cover Story: Gwen Stefani and the art of multitasking

Cover Story: Gwen Stefani and the art of multitasking
Gwen Stefani is sitting in her 1920s mansion, east of Hollywood, waxing breathlessly about her solo debut album, Love Angel Music Baby. “Dude, the record is so frickin’ good,” she gushes, “not in a braggy way—I’m not the only one who worked on it—but I feel like every track could be a single.” Stefani’s enthusiasm is understandable; the singer has just finished work on her much-awaited “dance record” which, by her own admission, had a difficult genesis. “I got to work with so many talented people,” she continues, referring to collaborations with such heavyweights as songwriter Linda Perry and producers like Dr. Dre and Outkast’s Andre 3000, “that I’d sometimes feel that I was drowning in the...
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Feature Article: k.d. lang finds her watershed

Feature Article: k.d. lang finds her watershed
She walks into the room with bleary eyes. It’s the first interview of the day and Canada’s k.d. lang isn’t yet fully awake, so she throws open the hotel-suite window before settling into a couch. The bracing December air somehow seems to kick start the interview about her superb new album, Watershed, into gear. Following her duets of Louis Armstrong covers with Tony Bennett, A Wonderful World, and her collection of Canadian classics, Hymns of the 49th Parallel, it’s her first album of new original material in eight years. Asked why it took so long, lang is quick with the reasons: 9/11, Buddhism and writer’s block. “Basically, my world was turned upside down,” she adds, “and it took me that l...
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Feature Article: Youssou N’Dour and the beauty of Africa

Feature Article: Youssou N’Dour and the beauty of Africa
Senegal’s Youssou N’Dour is a global superstar, a singer with a stunning, ululating voice so rich and emotive that it transcends language. At home, he’s a national hero so revered that his popularity overshadows that of star soccer players and the country’s charismatic president. So imagine the devastation N’Dour felt when Egypt, his deeply spiritual 2004 album, was denounced by Senegalese religious leaders and rejected by Senegalese fans and retailers. He had recorded the album, collaborating with an Egyptian orchestra, to reveal a more tolerant face of Islam in the wake of 9/11. “I was really frustrated at the perceptions of people at home,” admitted N’Dour recently, “because I was praisin...
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Feature Article: The new soul of Duffy

Feature Article: The new soul of Duffy
It’s easy to be cynical about the latest soul sensation from the British Isles to land on these shores. After all, there’s been a steady flow of divas from Ol’ Blighty in recent years, from Joss Stone and Corinne Bailey Rae to Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse. But Duffy is different. The Welsh-born singer’s sound, although steeped in ’60s soul, packs an emotional wallop that gives the newcomer a distinct advantage over her soul sisters. It’s as if the 23-year-old blonde songstress has arrived fully formed—with a lifetime’s worth of longing and heartache in her voice. One listen to Duffy’s debut album, Rockferry, instantly brings to mind the blue-eyed soul of Dusty Springfield—with a little Ronni...
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