Stan Rogers and Cowboy Junkies reviews & giveaway

In today’s edition of the Red Deer Advocate, I feature reviews of two Canadian roots music albums. The Very Best of Stan Rogers has just been re-released through Borealis and the Cowboy Junkies released the second album of their Nomad series Demons, an album of Vic Chesnutt songs. Neither will appeal to everyone, but such is the nature of music- it would be awful if everyone enjoyed the same sounds.

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

Stan Rogers The Very Best of Stan Rogers Fogarty’s Cove/Borealis

What more needs to be written about Stan Rogers?

Almost thirty years after his tragic death- and in no small part because of it- Rogers casts a formidable shadow over the Canadian folk world.

That deep, melodious voice and magnanimous spirit, illuminating the tales of our country in a way that perhaps no one has done since, are distilled within this collection to 16 songs.

Originally released a year ago, The Very Best of Stan Rogers has been reintroduced to the marketplace with stronger distribution. While Rogers’ few studio albums are best served as complete visions, it would be a fool’s errand to challenge the efficacy of this set.

With remastering of his five albums undertaken, this set of serves as a concise introduction to what some have called the most influential folk songs written in and about Canada.

The familiar tunes are accounted here, from the epic- Northwest Passage and The Mary Ellen Carter- to the timeless- Forty-Five Years and The Idiot– and onto the legendary- Barrett’s Privateers. The Field Behind the Plow, as detailed and stirring accounting of farm life as has been written, is included as are perhaps less familiar tunes such as The Last Watch and Lies.

Rogers knew our country, its people, and their habits. The farmer’s wife who “pours a cup of coffee, drips Carnation from the can” is as vital to Rogers’ Canada as are the crew who vow to raise a ship from her depths, and workers battling redundancy.

With more than forty other Rogers’ songs to explore, The Very Best of Stan Rogers is but a starting place. Mind you, a very good starting place.

Cowboy Junkies Demons Latent Recordings

Let no one accuse Cowboy Junkies of resting on their laurels. Demons, the second of the four album Nomad series, is comprised entirely of songs written by Vic Chesnutt.

Chesnutt’s songs tend toward denseness- in mood and lyrical choices- and there is little Cowboy Junkies can do to minimize those constants. What they manage to do, through both Margo Timmins’ consistently beautiful vocals and the band’s focused distillation of Chesnutt’s vision, is recreate songs as original, aggressive pieces revealing Chesnutt’s gifts- something his own presentation often hindered.

Andy Maize (Skydiggers) lends his voice to a pair of tracks with other guests fleshing out the Junkies’ instrumental trio.

Demons stands as yet another dramatic and powerfully crafted album- one that relies less on individual songs than it does a consistent atmosphere- from one of Canada’s respected recording groups.

Since I purchased The Very Best of Stan Rogers last year when it was originally released, I have my review copy to give away. To win, leave a comment here at Fervor Coulee about your favourite Stan Rogers song or experience. I’ll do a random drawing in a week’s time; good luck. It’s gone.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

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