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: David Byrne - American Utopia

The former Talking Head is a restless soul, undertaking books, films, operas, photographs and drawings to express his quirky views. His latest album, a collaboration with longtime cohort Brian Eno, offers a surprising antidote to the world’s depressing news: optimism—conveyed on joyously melodic tracks like “Here” and “Every Day is a Miracle.”

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Music Review: Elise LeGrow - Playing Chess

She’s not entirely new to the scene, having released a pop music EP in 2013. But Canada’s Elise LeGrow is now getting an international buzz, thanks to her sizzling debut album, Playing Chess. Working with soul legend Betty Wright, the Roots’ Questlove and members of the Dap Kings, who once backed Amy Winehouse, the 30-year-old Toronto singer puts a fresh spin on classic r&b songs from Chicago’s iconic Chess record label. She turns Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” into a wistful ballad, gives Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love” a haunting rock edge and transforms Fontella Bass’s “Rescue Me,” into slow, sultry jazz. Already the album, released on New York’s S-Curve Records, home of Joss Stone...

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Music Review: U.S. Girls - In a Poem Unlimited

The brainchild of Toronto-based, Illinois-born Meg Remy, U.S. Girls’ latest is a deliciously subversive affair: tart political protests wrapped in sweetly seductive dance grooves. The Juno-nominated artist conveys anger over American gun violence with the Blondie-style disco of “Mad as Hell” and expresses rage about sexual assault with lush horns reminiscent of David Bowie’s “Young Americans.”

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Music Review: Holly Cole - Holly

She’s billed as a Canadian jazz sensation. But Cole, a gifted singer and two-time Juno Award winner, has never belonged to any one category. That’s because the Halifax native has always been too adventurous. Her first hit was a version of Johnny Nash’s reggae classic “I Can See Clearly Now” and she’s since covered everyone from the Beatles to, most frequently, Tom Waits. Blessed with playful personality, Cole has consistently taken her versatile contralto to unexpected places. That’s true of her ninth album—and first in five years. Although the material is drawn entirely from the American Songbook, there’s nothing conventional about Cole’s approach. Backed stellar musicians, including her lo...

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Music Review: Vance Joy - Nation of Two

He called it a “weird mish-mash of ideas.” But Joy’s “Riptide,” an insanely catchy ukulele tune that references dentists, a magician’s assistant and Michelle Pfeiffer, became a massive global hit. The Australian singer-songwriter, born James Keogh, saw his 2014 debut album, God Loves You When You’re Dancing, sell over two million copies, largely thanks to that one song. Now Joy, who Taylor Swift handpicked to open her 1989 Tour worldwide, has released his sophomore album. Once again, he focuses on intimate yet joyous songwriting. “Saturday Sun” comes closest to the infectious thrill of “Riptide.” The album’s most autobiographical song is “Little Boy,” which details a childhood accident, whil...

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Music Review: Rhiannon Giddens - Freedom Highway

The talented singer-banjoist, currently starring in TV’s Nashville, is a previous Grammy winner and now has another Grammy nod as a solo artist. Her second album serves as a timely rallying cry in the worrying wake of the U.S. election, with soulful originals and the stirring title track, a cover of the Staple Singers’ 1965 civil rights anthem.

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Music Review: Hollie Cook - Vessel of Love

  Cook is one of best current proponents of lover’s rock, the romantic reggae offshoot. On her third album, the English singer injects plenty of dreamy tropical vibes into feel-good numbers like “Stay Alive,” a perfect showcase for her breezy voice, and the horn-driven “Angel Fire,” which conjures up visions of sensuous nights on a moonlit beach.

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Music Review: Bahamas - Earthtones

Inspired by hip-hop and r&b, Afie Jurvanen, better known as Juno-winning folk star Bahamas, gets funky on his fourth album. Backed by D’Angelo’s bassist Pino Palladino and drummer James Gadson, he injects real groove into infectious numbers like “Way With Words” and “Bad Boys Need Love To,” with angelic accompaniment from gifted backing singer Felicity Williams.

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Music Review: Jim Cuddy - Constellation

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

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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