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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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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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