Willie P. Bennett

Heartstrings

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Heartstrings is a stunning album, and, consequently, it was awarded the 1999 Juno, the Grammy of the Canadian music industry. It is a collection of songs that manages to be down to earth and somewhat otherworldly at the same time, giving this album its unique flair. The songs are mostly Willie P. Bennett's own compositions, with the exception of the title track "Heartstrings," written by producer Tony Quarrington, and "Waltz Time Medley," a medley of traditional folk songs. There are many brilliant moments on Heartstrings, which are put to life by many excellent musicians on an interesting variety of instruments: Check out the sparkling playing of the Byelorussian cymbalon player Vladimir Gorodkine in the bizarre prairie ballad "Restless Wind" sung by Bennett in an almost frighteningly low bass voice. The beautiful "Azure" shines by the ardent playing of Bennett's own Rodeo King String Quartet. "(Who's Gonna Get The) Last Word (In)," a sharp-tongued reflection on politics, features Bruce Cockburn on guitar. At the finale of the album, all musicians assemble to perform the good-humored love song "Heartstrings" containing such lovely lines as "you can play me like a violin/you are plucking on my heartstrings." There is not one weak song on this album, and Heartstrings stands out as a landmark of Canadian folk music in the '90s.