Bruce Cockburn

The Trouble with Normal

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Like his two previous efforts in the '80s, The Trouble With Normal places Bruce Cockburn yet another step further from his days as Canada's resident mystic folky. And while he had touched on similar musical themes on earlier recordings, the eclectic blend of folk, rock, and world music here is much more defined and realized. The use of synths, electric guitar, violin, and Chapman Stick, along with the occasional keyboard and drum sequences, complement the weighty, ominous nature of his lyrical concerns, which seem to paint a picture of a world, though teetering on the edge, still filled with beauty ("Hoop Dancer"), hope ("Put Our Hearts Together"), and contentment ("Waiting for the Moon to Show"). Amidst the "chaos" and "fashionable fascism," Cockburn's message, though cloaked in frustration and cynicism, and not nearly as overt as it has been in the past, is still one of faith and love. There is the tendency to get heavy-handed at times, but still, The Trouble With Normal contains some of Cockburn's most beautifully imagistic writing to date and is another strong effort. The U.S. release contains an alternate, yet inferior take of the title track, which makes the Canadian (True North) version preferable.

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