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Willie Thrasher’s debut (and only) studio album, Spirit Child originally came out through the CBC in 1981 and was then mostly forgotten. He had a northern hit with Leonard Cohen-ish Silent Inuit, but either the album wasn’t promoted well or the rest of Canada wasn’t yet ready to hear it. Luckily, following the success of last year’s Native North America, Vol. 1 (with a picture of Thrasher on the cover), Light in the Attic is giving Spirit Child another chance.
Rightfully so. Thrasher, a residential school survivor and former drummer with Beatles-inspired band the Cordells, builds a musical – and socially conscious – bridge between the West and his Inuit traditions, sounding (especially on the title track) much like a native Neil Young. Opener Beautiful is Byrdsy, while folk rock guitar meshes with chanting on Inuit Chant. When Thrasher introduces interplay between English and Inuktitut (as he does on Silent Inuit and the spoken, experimental Old Man Inuit), the result is both revelatory and memorable.
Top track: Silent Inuit