Terra Light­foot de­liv­ers on high ex­pec­ta­tions with New Mis­takes

Waterloo Region Record - - NIGHTLIFE - Michael Bar­clay www.ra­diofreecanuck­istan.blogspot.com


It’s been a hell of a ride, th­ese past few years, for Hamilton’s Terra Light­foot. Her sec­ond al­bum, “Ev­ery Time My Mind Runs Wild,” got a soft launch in the spring of 2015 to ex­pec­ta­tions rang­ing from mild to low to zero. Yet al­most ev­ery­one who heard it re­al­ized it was the ar­rival of a ma­jor new singer-song­writer; ev­ery­one who saw her re­al­ized what a pow­er­house per­former and gui­tarist she was. And lots of peo­ple saw her: plum fes­ti­val gigs ga­lore, plus open­ing slots for Blue Rodeo, Gor­don Light­foot, Daniel Lanois, Rheo­stat­ics, Bruce Cock­burn (you may have seen her at the Cen­tre in the Square with him last month) and other dream dates. Ev­ery­one fell in love with Terra Light­foot, and de­servedly so.

Ex­pec­ta­tions are sky-high this time out. And she has no prob­lem de­liv­er­ing.

The rock­ers are big­ger. The bal­lads more in­ti­mate. But the real leap here is her nar­ra­tive voice on tracks like “Norma Gale,” where the John Prine in­flu­ence, which she ref­er­ences in lyrics else­where, man­i­fests it­self. Be­hind her, her crack band add all kinds of tasty bits un­der­neath the swag­ger­ing singer up front, never more so on the sure­fire set-closer “Hold You,” where ev­ery mem­ber of the band truly shines — as does the guest sax­o­phon­ist who shows up in the last 30 sec­onds of the song.

When classic rock sta­tions claim they don’t have any room for new artists on their playlists, Terra Light­foot should stroll through their doors with this new record and give them all a swift kick in the rear.

She opens for White­horse at Massey Hall in Toronto on Dec. 8, a chance to see two of the best Cana­dian records of 2017 come to life.

Stream: “You Get High,” “Norma Gale,” “Hold You”


What hap­pens when a klezmer artist makes a coun­try record? Ge­off Berner has cer­tainly posed more un­usual ques­tions over the course of his 17-year record­ing ca­reer. The Van­cou­ver ac­cor­dion­ist and acer­bic singer-song­writer is a satirist of the high­est or­der, one ca­pa­ble of ex­tract­ing hi­lar­ity from hor­rors and pro­vid­ing the most emo­tion­ally com­plex evening of mu­sic you’re likely to en­counter at a live show.

On his sev­enth al­bum, Berner shifts away from his klezmer es­capades and taps Neko Case gui­tarist Paul Rigby to make some­thing ap­prox­i­mately a coun­try record, filled with the kinds of songs that made him a favourite cover choice for his friends the Be Good Tanyas and Corb Lund. It’s the most mu­si­cally con­ser­va­tive al­bum he’s made in years, but it’s by no means meant to be easy lis­ten­ing.

It opens with “The Ghost of Terry Fox,” one of the most tragic tales in Cana­dian celebrity: the story of Steve Fonyo, the can­cer­stricken am­putee who ac­tu­ally com­pleted Fox’s mis­sion, but suf­fered from sec­ond-banana syn­drome in the eyes of an in­dif­fer­ent pub­lic, racked up sev­eral crim­i­nal con­vic­tions, was stripped of his Or­der of Canada, and was the vic­tim of a home in­va­sion in Sur­rey, B.C. Fonyo was the sub­ject of a 2015 Alan Zweig doc­u­men­tary, and a mu­si­cal by Berner, from which this song orig­i­nates. Berner takes a sim­i­larly bio­graph­i­cal ap­proach to “Gino Od­jick,” a song about the Van­cou­ver Canucks’ “Al­go­nquin As­sas­sin,” an on-ice en­forcer and res­i­den­tial school sur­vivor who, along with other prom­i­nent In­dige­nous Cana­di­ans, met the Pope to hear an apol­ogy from the Catholic Church.

On a lighter note, Berner mocks south­ern On­tario coun­try singers who ar­tic­u­late with a “Phoney Drawl,” and warns his peers “Don’t Play Cards For Money With Corby Lund.” “Hus­tle Ad­vi­sory” ref­er­ences Leonard Co­hen, Je­sus, and Justin Trudeau, and fea­tures Frazey Ford on back­ing vo­cals.

There’s no surer sign of Berner’s con­tin­ued song­writ­ing strength than “Su­per Sub­tle Folk Song,” writ­ten dur­ing yet an­other sum­mer of wild­fires in B.C. and pipe­line de­bates across the coun­try, in which Berner sings: “My brother was be­ing torn apart by pan­thers / So I bought a bunch of pan­thers as pets / My dad was dy­ing of lung cancer / so I bought my kids a car­ton of cig­a­rettes / Fu­ture kin will say we were a-holes / we were just try­ing to fit into our scene / And while the fire’s still burn­ing / let’s make a bunch more gaso­line.” That he does so with one of the catchi­est melodies on a record full of ear­worms en­sures that the mes­sage sinks in. More im­por­tant, for a man who has of­ten used a blunt ham­mer to make his point, ti­tling a track “Su­per Sub­tle Folk Song” may be a self-dep­re­cat­ing jab, but it also proves that Berner is stronger when he’s sub­ver­sive.

Ge­off Berner is play­ing with Rae Spoon on Oct. 18 at the ANAF in Guelph.

Stream: “The Ghost of Terry Fox,” “Su­per Sub­tle Folk Song,” “Gino Od­jick”

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