Stompin' Tom Connors

Fiddle and Song

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This Canadian country & western music icon took nearly a dozen years off between albums before coming up with this minor masterpiece, a simultaneous comeback and call to arms that gets gooey here and there, but winds up with a sea shanty/ghost story that is so haunted it will make the listener's hair stand on end. The flat, unaffected Connors' voice was not ravaged by time; after all, there was never much there in terms of keeping a tune anyway. He brushed up on his fiddle playing during the recording hiatus, and uses the instrument to great effect on several pieces. Country fans who are more geared toward the Southern fiddle sound will be surprised to hear the turn things take when the fiddling is coming from a more maritime perspective. It is the oddball point of view that has always made this artist such a treasure, however, rather than his admirable instrumental skills. His tribute to fellow Canadian country star k.d. lang is a charmer, as is his both jaunty and sincere new attempt at a national anthem, definitely an improvement over "Oh Canada." He does come across almost like a neurotic stalker on "Morning and Evening and Always." The sea shanties "Return of the Sea Queen" and "Wreck of the Tammy Anne" are simply magnificent, as he has always done this type of material to a juicy turn. A crack band of sidemen contribute to the unpretentious country sound.

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