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Making a fair stab at rivalling Johnny Cash for memorable last works, Canada’s Gerry Griffin presents here a collection of songs written over the last five years or so which are pretty much all washed through with intimations of mortality. These are the songs of a man obsessed with life in the shadow of death, a man determined to make the most of the time left to him. It’s not in any way a seriously commercial effort in that there’s no big tunes, no lush production, no attempt to create a radio hit; it is, however, the sound of a man being true to himself, and this in itself gives Moment to Moment an honest charm that might worm its way into your affections.

The sound is gentle and quiet, Gerry’s slightly cracked voice and acoustic guitar to the fore. He murmurs and wails, comes over like a European folk singer, in fact does pretty much anything with his voice other than sing straight. It sounds quite bluesy a lot of the time – somewhere between some Malian blues and a Native American shaman calling on the spirits – which serves to give mystery and resonance to songs which are essentially quite straightforward. There’s some subtle backing in the sound – credits are given for bass, programming and African thumb piano, whatever that is – and this makes for some gently developed atmosphere, whilst Heather Houston’s understated support in the vocals balances Gerry’s sandpaper voice nicely. In a way, the standout tracks for me are the two that sound like old folk songs; ‘It’s Love That Gets Us Through’ talks nicely about the small, quiet joys of being with the person you love, whilst ‘I’m Going Home’ is the song he’s written to leave behind for those who’ll mourn him, a song of reassurance and peace in the face of death. Both have tunes that seem to lean on something quite familiar. Can’t pin down the first song but there’s ghosts of ‘Hickory Wind’ on ‘I’m Going Home’. In both cases, that sense of familiarity feels like a bonus.

Mostly, these songs talk about love and try to pin down the little bits of magic in the everyday that make you glad to have someone there – and grapple with the age old conundrum of trying to live in the moment, in each moment as it comes along. It’s the stuff you think about as you get older, and old folk need their poets, too.

Footnote: I just checked out the thumb piano thingummy. It's sweet, I want one!
John Davy




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July 2018
1
American Aquarium
93 pts.
Things Change
New West
BK,TJ,JB
2
Gretchen Peters
56 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
ML,GF
3
Patrick Sweany
51 pts.
Ancient Noise
Nine Mile Records
FC,RK,BM,CVL,TK
4
Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore
47 pts.
Downey To Lubbock
Yep Roc
SP,JBO,JJC
5
Melissa Carper & Rebecca Patek
34 pts.
Brand New Old-Time Songs
Independent
 
6
Ry Cooder
33 pts.
The Prodigal Son
Perro Verde Records
DH
7
Jenny van West
32 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
RST,NC
8
Brooks Williams
30 pts.
Lucky Star
Red Guitar Blue Music
 
9
Levi Parham
29 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
 
10
I See Hawks in LA
26 pts.
Live and Never Learn
Western Seed Records
WR
11
Rory Block
25 pts.
A Woman's Soul
Stoneyplain Records
MB,AL
12
Phil Cook
24 pts.
People Are My Drug
Thirty Tigers
LK,JD
13
Mike Aiken
23 pts.
Wayward Troubadour
Northwind Records
BP
14
Karen Jonas
22 pts.
Butter
Independent
HVB
15
Buckley
21 pts.
Las Cruzes
Rum Bar Records
 
 
John Prine
21 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
 
17
Neko Case
20 pts.
Hell-on
Anti Epitha
MW
 
Sam Lewis
20 pts.
Loversity
Loversity Records
HDB
 
Verbraak Van Bijnen
20 pts.
Endless Road
CRS
HH,TV
20
Jesse Dayton
19 pts.
The Outsider
Blue Elan
LM,SZ
21
Dieter van der Westen Band
18 pts.
Me and You
Independent
 
 
Hadley McCall Thackston
18 pts.
Hadley McCall Thackston
Wolfe Island Records
CRS
 
Willie Nelson
18 pts.
Last Man Standing
Legacy
 
24
Carter Sampson
17 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
 
Tami Neilson
17 pts.
SassaFrass!
Outside Music

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