I have had this album a while now, and thought I would commit myself to a review. Bruce Cockburn’s poetry and music are sublime- there simply is no-one better. I have loved this man’s music for 25 years, so I will listen to him playing biscuit tins, but…
This album is good, but it is not great. I wondered whether it would grow on me, as others have- particularly ‘The Charity of Night’, which I struggled with at first, but now it is one of my favourite ever albums. However, if anything, ‘Small source of comfort’ is well named- it has slipped deeper towards the back of my record collection, where it is likely to remain.
Well, the production is lack lustre- almost as if musicians were going through the motions. It is competent, but it does not innovate or sparkle. He badly needs a new producer- or perhaps a new challenge.
The songs themselves are similar- some of them OK, but none of them really memorable. Then there is the strange song about the planes returning with the bodies of Canadian soldiers from Afghanistan (‘Each one lost’.) Strange because it is so accepting, so ‘compliant’- asking no questions, issuing no challenge. Most un-Cockburnesque.
Then there is ‘Call me Rose’- imagining Richard Nixon re-incarnated as a single mother living on a rough estate. A fun idea, but it just does not work as a song- not by his high standards. It is the sort of song knocked out after too much wine that really should be abandoned during the morning hang over.
What I feel like saying is- “Come on Bruce, sharpen your steel. We need you back at your best.” In these strange times, we really need our troubadours, our poets and our prophets.
Because Bruce can write like this (The last song on the album, written in 1968.)
Silver rain sings dancing rhyme
sunlight on blue water
rocky shore grown soft with moss
catches all our laughter
and it sends it back without its edge
to strengthen us anew
that we may walk within these walls
and share our gifts with you