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.

Music Review: Jim Cuddy - Constellation

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Like Blue Rodeo’s albums, Jim Cuddy’s solo records blend country-tinged rock with pop ballads. The only real difference is that, without Greg Keelor, his co-frontman in Blue Rodeo, Cuddy’s recordings are generally more upbeat. That said, some of the best songs on Constellation are those steeped in melancholy. The title track is a piano ballad about a dying friend. Cuddy, 62, sings about struggling to say goodbye as the song builds to a stirring crescendo. “You Be the Leaver” is another meditation on separation and includes the memorable line “So you be the leaver, I’ll be the left behind.” But there are plenty of brighter moments. The joyous, organ-fuelled “While I Was Waiting” revels in fin...
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Music Review: Camila Cabello - Camila

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She’s only 20, but Camila Cabello’s already well on her way. When she quit Fifth Harmony, the all-female group she joined when she was just 15, Cabello stated she wanted to “open up my soul.” With her debut album, the Cuban-American singer has done just that. Produced by Canada’s Frank Dukes, the album is a confident statement of intent, featuring intimate songs about love and longing. There’s an appealing Latin tinge to several tracks, including the irresistible smash “Havana,” the bubbling “She Loves Control” and the reggaeton tune “Inside Out.” Cabello isn’t afraid to sing honestly about an old boyfriend on “All These Years” and the piano ballad “Consequences,” on which she hits Mariah Ca...
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Music Review: Gord Downie - Introduce Yerself

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Last summer, Canada tuned in to watch the Tragically Hip’s last concert and bid adieu to its charismatic poetic frontman. Now Gord says goodbye with this poignant collection of 23 deeply personal songs. Like David Bowie’s and Leonard Cohen’s final recordings, the album is almost unbearably sad and made more powerful because the artist knew the end was coming. “Each song is about a person,” Gord explained before his death from brain cancer on Oct. 17. Some numbers are love letters to childhood buddies, former girlfriends and his bandmates in the Hip. “Bedtime,” a tender piano lullaby, describes the nightly ritual of putting one of his four children to sleep. “You and Me and the B’s,” with per...
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Music Review: Neil Young - Hitchhiker

Music Review: Neil Young - Hitchhiker
His Harvest album was the biggest-seller of 1972, but Neil wasn’t happy. “‘Heart of Gold’ put me in the middle of the road,” he later wrote. “Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch.” The ditch meant a trio of darker, abrasive albums that left some fans craving for more acoustic songs. This 10-song collection, recorded in 1976 but left in Neil’s vaults until now, sounds a lot like a companion to Harvest . It features stripped-down versions of “Pocahontas” and “Powderfinger” that he later recorded with Crazy Horse. “Campaigner” and “Human Highway” sound relevant all over again with their messages about political deception and mean spiritedness. The former cites Richard Ni...
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Music Review: Arcade Fire - Everything Now

Music Review: Arcade Fire - Everything Now
How did Arcade Fire become a global band that mattered? By addressing big questions thoughtfully and passionately. Funeral examined death, Neon Bible tackled modern religion and The Suburbs took a hard look at urban life. On its last album, 2013’s Reflektor , the Montreal band led by the husband-and-wife team of Win Butler and Régine Chassange, dialed down the philosophical intensity and adopted an arsenal of grooves from synth-pop and disco to Haitian rara and Jamaican dub. For its fifth release Arcade Fire aims to marry the two, mixing earnest social commentary with dancefloor-ready beats. The title track is an ABBA-like number about consumption and the need for instant gratification. On “...
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Music Review: Lana Del Rey - Lust for Life

Music Review: Lana Del Rey - Lust for Life
By now, Del Rey's persona and esthetic are well established: a femme fatale who revels in moody numbers about bad boys. It’s been a successful formula where the 32-year-old singer’s blank stare reflected her music’s ennui. So what are we to make of Del Rey’s smiling face on her latest album? Has she found contentment? While the New York City native is still mired in toxic relationships, her concerns now about have more to do with the state of the planet. “When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing” finds her asking “Is it the end of America?” and “God Bless America—And All the Beautiful Women In It” is an ode to feminism. Best of all, there’s something close to joyful abandon on the Beatlesqu...
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Music Review: Alison Moyet - Other

Music Review: Alison Moyet - Other
She’s one of the greatest female singers ever to come out of the U.K. Six years before Adele was born, Alison Moyet was topping the charts with electropop duo Yaz. Blessed with a bluesy, soulful voice, Moyet went on to a highly successful solo career, exploring new styles with hits songs, including “All Cried Out” and “Invisible,” while selling over 23 million albums. A mother of three, the Grammy-nominated singer returned to her electronica roots with 2013’s excellent The Minutes . Working again with producer Guy Sigsworth (Björk, Madonna), Moyet continues making adventurous music on her ninth studio album. Some of the songs, like “Reassuring Pinches,” recall the meaningful electropop of “O...
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