As well as any record he’s ever made, this Bruce Cockburn release illustrates just what makes him so compelling and tough to corner. Opening with a well-greased John Lee Hooker groove, Cockburn slides from a dream in which he’d “been wearing O.J.’s gloves” and couldn’t get them off, into the stranger, waking world of punks, cafes, tourists, and journalistic half-truths. From his ceaseless wanderings, Cockburn has absorbed Brazilian, African, and Eastern musical accents.
More importantly, he has a traveler’s vision, always in awe of far-flung mysteries. His guitar work remains a marvel of rhythmic complexity and technical precision (the bloated fuzz reading of “Blueberry Hill,” however, is an exception).
Spoken word trances; white-hot Metheny-esque instrumentals; Dylan-esque cryptographies of politics and sex; and metaphysical love lyrics (three of which feature harmony from Lucinda Williams)–there’s an off-hand, unpretentious ambition to these songs, a visceral sense of spiritual and artistic fulfillment.
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