David Baxter- Patina   Leave a comment

Welcome back to Fervor Coulee. In this week’s column in the Red Deer Advocate the usual slate of gigs are advanced and I feature the new album from David Baxter. Since receipt two weeks ago, seldom has more than a day gone by without me returning to this one. Another master release from Ontario’s David Baxter.

Originally published in my Roots Music column in the Red Deer Advocate, February 4, 2011

David Baxter Patina Proper Channels

When David Baxter released his first album Day & Age two years ago, it was a revelation. Across the board critical appreciation followed, as did a Canadian Folk Award nomination.

A Toronto mainstay, Baxter has played guitar on innumerable recordings while producing some of the finest young talent- most notably Catherine MacLellan- coming out of Ontario. As apparent as his abilities as a sideman and producer are, it is when Baxter steps out on his own that his true gifts are revealed.

As with his previous recording, on Patina Baxter straddles musical atmospheres with little concern for genre. True, the sound is largely country-roots, but other flavours are introduced in liberal quantities. Patina reminds one of the albums Ian Tyson used to make and that Tom Russell still does- ones rich in universal sentiment shaded with lyrical and instrumental details that reveal the truths of fiction.

Subtle instrumental nuance lurk within the depths of the recording, a pulse of accordion here, a flourish of fiddle or harmonica there. As I wrote about Day & Age, Baxter leaves space within his songs, nothing is over-crowded or wasted; the songs breathe as organic entities. The intensity of songs builds with delicate additions of emotional shadings.

John Anderson or Vince Gill could have recorded She’s Drinking Again in 1985, and heck- they might have; it is an instant honky tonk classic. Rockin’ in the Cradle of the South cruises with the breeziness of a light-hearted Levon Helm or Zachary Richard tune. River Moon and Bow River Blues tread into darker territory and are David Allan Coe-lonesome.

The album’s most intimate song, A Waltz of Our Own, also serves as its highlight. This closing duet with MacLellan is a magical performance, gentle and honest, capturing in simple rhymes and lines the hopes and intensity of a relationship.

With a musical maturity seldom encountered in modern, radio-friendly country music, David Baxter has reached new heights with Patina.

Many thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Now, go buy something good. Donald


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