In this week’s Red Deer Advocate, I review the upcoming Cowboy Junkies release Wilderness. Latst time out, it was Steve Coffey’s turn, and that review is posted below. Steve has additional shows upcoming- check out his website for details.
Steve Coffey & the Lokels Bovine World Rail Self-released http://www.steve-coffey.com/
Steve Coffey- painter, songwriter, singer- is a complex man, one who has placed the stability of home and family ahead of the vagrancies of the road, perhaps to the detriment of his standing within the Canadian roots marketplace.
With five albums of excellence recorded over little more than a decade, Steve Coffey should be a more familiar name. He has chosen to remain close to his Vulcan home, painting and writing, only touring with his stable line-up of Lokels sporadically.
Always gifted, Coffey’s skills as both singer and songwriter have demonstrably developed over the years. His vivid descriptions, selectively within narratives, but more frequently casually poetic, are full of life and inspiration. It is impossible to hear his words and voice and not begin visualizing the descriptions as light-infused, impressionistic paintings. The album’s third track “Closure,” featuring beautiful vocals from Tobi Malloy, opens with this verse- just try not to see the brush strokes:
I look out my early winter window
to the pale hue of the sneaking morning sun
dancing on the frost a glinting glow
such is your memory of which I am not done
I can vaguely trace the moon through my breath
on this kitchen’s rippling window pane
like the borders of the city that buried you
back in the summer’s ground soaked with rain.
The album’s deepest song, certainly the most personal-sounding is “Fighting Days.” With both his father and grandfather having military backgrounds, Coffey bridges the challenges of love in times of war- the fear and sacrifice- and the horror that remains in mind.
And that voice. God, it is something special without a hint of prettiness about it. Steve Coffey has an identifiable voice; in places it aches (“Times, When”) and in other places it playfully flirts (“Ten Pin”), but most times it just flows- with honesty, truth, and tempered realism (“Logging Towns,” “Once From an Island”). Coffey has never delivered anything less than a masterpiece, and Bovine World Rail continues where Twirlin’ Girl Boogie left off: well-written, clever, and original country- and folk-based music.
Recommended if you like Jim Ford, Nick Lowe, and Warren Zevon.