Donna Durand and Jaydee Bixby reviews   Leave a comment


In today’s (June 6, 2010) Red Deer Advocate Roots Music column I review two new albums with significant area interest. Donna Durand has emerged on the local roots scene with numerous appearances and has now released her debut recording. Former Canadian Idol finalist Jaydee Bixby has released his sophomore effort.

Donna Durand The Road Back www.donnadurand.com

Red Deer’s Donna Durand has released a roots music album that rivals the best Canadian, acoustic music released this year.

With a gentle manner that is reminiscent of fellow Central Albertan Ruth Purves Smith, Donna Durand has turned her ‘pre-retirement’ songwriting and performing hobby into a full-fledged, second career.

The Alberta musicians who recorded the 12-track The Road Back with Durand do themselves and the songwriter proud. Local musicians Dave Grobe (percussion) and Tony Mellor (bass) stand alongside Edmonton’s Gord Matthews (guitars and mandolin) and Byron Myhre (fiddle) to create a seamless tapestry of largely acoustic sounds.

Whether Durand’s characters are brothers hauling coal in an “ice blue storm” during “The Winter of 1943” or a prairie girl fretting inevitable heartbreak among the “Wild Roses”, Durand captures intimate relationships.

With a realism marked by familiarity, Durand’s songs are imbedded with details that can only be gleamed from personal experience or those of family and neighbours. The farmer making “one more round” in the fields while supper dries in a pan will be familiar to all wives of the country. When the truck gets stuck in a Durand song (“Maybe”), the results are not only life-affirming but oddly romantic as her rescuer’s “eyes grey mist sad;” yearning, Durand sees and hears him everywhere.

Although she may suffer from mis-direction when driving- and is chided for this failing by Ian Tyson within the title cut- Donna Durand’s music is steadfastly assured within this gleaming album, capturing both the geographic openness and people temperance of our province. 

 Jaydee Bixby Easy to Love EMI Canada

Briefly a Red Deer resident, Jaydee Bixby’s sophomore release is a competent collection of radio-friendly country. Having woodshedded with Nashville-based writers, Bixby’s songwriting voice emerges and he had a hand in writing five of the ten cuts contained herein.

A reworking of Tom Cochrane’s “Boy Inside the Man” has mass appeal while “Closer Than You Think” and “The Long Haul” hint at developing maturity. Bixby’s voice no longer betrays him as a karaoke cowboy. Light fare such as “Tailgate” and “Dream Bigger” will fit within modern radio playlists. But 19, Bixby has a long way to go before he can be considered a premier country singer; Easy to Love suggests he may find a way to ascend to such a level.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee, Donald

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