Bob Wiseman

City of Wood

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Wiseman's first solo album post-Blue Rodeo and Edie Brickell finally marries his unusual melodies and quirky lyrical concerns with unexpectedly beautiful results. From the opening Dylan-esque lilt of "White Dress" through the chilling "Song For Amnesty International" to the schizoid title track, Dame Julia Nesbelch's poetic production guides Wiseman's acid-tinged sketchings into stunningly evocative tracks, combining folk, jazz, rock, and blues into a seamless collection. The political attacks are still present ("Have A Nice Day" skewers former Western Canada Concept Party leader Douglas Christie), but the absolute highlight is the unforgettably lyrical "For Joseph K.", a haunting eulogy to a great friend, marked by minimalist guitar picking that renders Wiseman's tristesse genuinely devastating. Encompassing rape, mass murder, third world torture, the rewriting of history, and a helpless world in which one can only struggle to stay afloat, City Of Wood is that rarest of things: an emotional powerhouse that actually conveys the angst, sorrow, and love at war within its artist. Truly remarkable.