Gregory Hoskins & Gary Craig review   Leave a comment

a3212490856_2Gregory Hoskins & Gary Craig

The Map of Above, The Map of Below

For his eighth album, his first as a duo with percussionist Gary Craig, Gregory Hoskins (long-ago True North recording artist and leader of & The Stickpeople), has elected to continue peeling back layers to expose the earthiest roots of music and song-telling. Boy, does it work.

Elemental components of traditional blues and troubadoury- yes, I’ve decided that should be a word- are forged together creating a sweet and scathing affirmation of the human spirit. Hoskins’ straight-ahead singing is at the fore binding these songs into thematic consistency- love (obsession, rejection, longing…) hurts- but it is Craig’s drumming that serves as the sonic core.

Recorded in many places under varying circumstances across several months, the album has a holistic spirit that belies its construction. Such is the strength of their intimacy, the eleven tracks- two of which Hoskins has previously recorded in very different presentations- appear to have been very competently recorded over the course of an intense weekend.

Not knowing Hoskins, I can only guess at the darkness that haunts him, can only imagine the wee voices bringing substance to the visions he creates. Whether he is documenting reality, or creating a reality of imagination, Hoskins’ songs provide much to consider- even when lyrics inspire the listener to look away.

While Nick Cave and Paul Simon appear elsewhere as common reference points- and one can appreciate such- I’m thinking Stan Ridgway and Jane Siberry.

Colin Linden drops in some suitably tasteful slide touches to “Sweet Redemption,” while Hawksley Workman collaborates on “Surgery,” one of the two songs Hoskins previously recorded. Several tracks feature vocals solicited from and contributed electronically by fans and supporters, collectively credited as The Beggar’s Choir.

Relatively unheralded, The Map of Above, The Map of Below is an organic album: beautiful, natural, and genuine. As great art often does, it reveals itself as a creation of substance over time, through multiple listenings. With each play through, the songs increase in stature, and Hoskins’ layered vocal intensity becomes that much more impressive.

Explore outside your comfort zone, and take a chance.

Listen at

Thanks for reading Fervor Coulee. Donald



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