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: Mary J. Blige - Strength of a Woman

The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul has always mined personal issues for her best work. This is the r&b diva known for such deeply confessional numbers as “Not Gon’ Cry” and “No More Drama.” For her 13th studio album, Blige had the biggest real-life drama to draw from: divorce from her longtime manager-husband Martin “Kendu” Isaacs. She doesn’t pull her punches, attacking him for his infidelity in the scathing “Set Me Free.” “How could you believe I wouldn’t fight back,” she tells him on “Telling the Truth,” a club number produced by Canada’s Kaytranada. But most of the album is more positive, with warm numbers like “Indestructible” and “Survivor.” “I’ve been broken for a long time,” she sings on ...

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  1992 Hits

Music Review: Sheryl Crow - Be Myself

It’s been nearly a quarter of a century since Sheryl Crow launched her career with Tuesday Night Music, a rock-pop album that included such infectious songs as “All I Wanna Do.” She went on to record another seven albums, which cumulatively sold over 35 million copies worldwide. Now Crow has reunited with Jeff Trott, who co-wrote early hits “If It Makes You Happy” and “My Favorite Mistake.” The reunion pays dividends, returning the “Everyday is a Winding Road” singer to her ’90s rock-queen glory. Songs like “Roller Skate,” “Rest of Me” and exuberant title track are all instantly likeable. There’s also a darker edge to some material, reflecting Crow’s concern with the state of the world. “Hal...

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Music Review: John Mayer - The Search for Everything

The seven-time Grammy winner has done his best to deny that he’s still fixated on Katy Perry. “I wouldn’t say it started as a breakup record,” says Mayer, whose relationship with Perry ended in 2015. Yet most of the songs on this 12-cut compilation, which includes two four-track EPs released earlier this year plus four unreleased tracks, are full of longing. Asked point blank if one new number, the shimmering “Still Feel Like Your Man” was about Perry, Mayer answered “who else would I be thinking about?” The songs, mostly rock and blues ballads with a solitary country track, “Roll It on Home,” range from lovelorn (“You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me”) to heartbroken (“Never on the Day You Leave...

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Music Review: Ed Sheeran - Division

He’s one of music’s most unlikely stars. An unassuming redhead from tiny Hebden Bridge in northern England, Ed Sheeran has a knack for crafting infectious pop songs in a variety of styles. The 26-year-old’s ambitious third album follows the mathematical titles of his previous bestselling releases, Plus and Multiply, but outdoes them both with better songs and more diverse sounds. Along with the chart-topping singles “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill,” the album has catchy ballads like “Perfect” and feelgood anthems of hope including “What Do I Know.” Strong rhythms drive sunny songs such as the Latin-tinged “Barcelona” and the West African-flavored “Bibia Be Ye Ye.” And Sheeran’s affini...

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Music Review: Alicia Keys - Here

Her last album was called Girl on Fire and Alicia is still red hot. This summer, the 15-time Grammy winner made headlines by choosing not to wear makeup at an awards show. On her sixth studio album, Keys continues to boldly speak out, tackling topics from the human condition to global politics on tough hip-hop tracks and spare acoustic ballads alike. She’s also released a companion short film titled The Gospel that deals with police brutality. That outspokenness is the backbone of confessional numbers like the dancehall-flavored “Girl Can’t Be Herself,” which focuses on issues of self-image, and “Blended Family (What You Do For Love),” a song inspired by her own experience as a mother of two...

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Music Review: Dolly Parton - Pure & Simple

Now 70, Dolly is unstoppable. The country music icon, currently on a 60-date tour, is celebrating her 50th year in show business as well as her 50th wedding anniversary. She’s in the midst of a four-movie deal with NBC, working on a sequel to the acclaimed Dolly-inspired Coat of Many Colors TV movie. Dolly’s 43rd studio album is a testament to her marriage to retired businessman Carl Thomas Dean. “All the songs I’ve written [for it] are love songs because I’m celebrating 50 years with my husband this year,” says Dolly. “So I thought it would be a good time to do an album of love songs.” The album lives up to its name, with stripped-down acoustic accompaniment to Dolly’s crisp, heartfelt lyri...

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Music Review: The Tragically Hip - Man Machine Poem

News that the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer shocked a nation that has long embraced the band affectionately known as just “the Hip.” The May revelation also made tickets to its summer tour. There’s a deep love for the Hip, whose songs seem to define what it means to be Canadian. The band, which gave a command performance for the Queen in 2002, showcases the talents of poet-singer Downie throughout their latest album. On “In a World Possessed by the Human Mind,” his lyrics have a spooky foreshadowing: “Just give me the news, it can all be lies/Exciting over fair, or the right thing at the right time.” But there’s plenty of spirit in songs like “Great Soul,” In Sarnia”...

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Music Review: Drake - Views

The Toronto rapper and singer has never been shy about his feelings his hometown or the women in his life. Both subjects dominate Drake’s eclectic fourth studio album, originally to be called Views from the Six in reference to his beloved Toronto. The cover shows him sitting atop the CN Tower. Then there’s “Weston Road Flows” and “9,” where he claims to have flipped Toronto on its head. While he’s unequivocal about his hometown, his relationships with women are less certain. On the island-flavored “Too Good,” his “he-said-she-said” collaboration with Rihanna, he complains, “You take my love for granted, I just don’t understand it.” On “Pop Style,” he worries that he simply “can’t trust nobod...

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Music Review: Various artists - I Saw the Light

British actor Tom Hiddleston shines as Hank Williams in the new biopic. Coached by country star Rodney Crowell, Tom sings convincing renditions of Hank’s classics, including “Jambalaya,” “Move It On Over” and “Hey Good Lookin’.” The soundtrack also features songs by such period stars as Eddy Arnold, Eartha Kitt and Jo Stafford.

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Music Review: Kacy & Clayton - Strange Country

Clayton Linthicum and his second cousin Kacy Anderson hail from southern Saskatchewan, but Clayton’s guitar and Kacy’s voice are rooted in the British folk styles of Davey Graham and Sandy Denny. With songs like the beguiling title track and the dreamy “If You Ask How I’m Keeping,” it’s an intoxicating, otherworldly brew. 

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