New and Notable Releases

Rating: NNN

The lugin contingent of Tragically Hip fans will surely despair over the mostly sombre acoustics and wonky imagery marking frontman Gord Downie’s solo debut, available as a limited edition with an accompanying book of poetry. Still, Downie can be credited with taking risks (possibly inspired by the Gas Station studios gang), alternately pitching us junkyard country, a shambling tuba-goosed Mardi Gras stomper plus fragile folk and pop ballads, all tethered to Downie’s, er, kaleidoscopic lyrics, which in one instance are delivered spoken-word, possibly from the bottom of a well. Even the cast of guests offer surprises. Sure, the presence of Skydiggers Josh Finlayson and Andy Maize is a no-brainer, but who knew Atom Egoyan did session work as a classical guitarist? As weird as you’d expect.

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