All That Is: The Songs of Garnet Rogers

Garnet Rogers

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All That Is: The Songs of Garnet Rogers Review

by Jeff Burger

If you're not familiar with folksinger Garnet Rogers -- and if you live in the U.S., you probably aren't -- this is a good way to get introduced. Containing ten of the best tracks from the many albums he has released in his native Canada, All That Is shows Rogers to be blessed with a powerful baritone and a vocal style that's redolent of labelmate Greg Brown, who wrote the liner notes for the CD. Rogers' lyrics, though, are probably the best -- and occasionally worst -- thing about him. Never obscure or pretentious, he writes very simply and straight from the heart. As a result, perhaps, Rogers sometimes lapses into platitudes about love and nature; this sort of writing ain't easy. But when Rogers' approach works, it really works. See, for example, "Frankie & Johnny," one of the album's two live tracks. A song about brothers, one of whom dies and one of whom learns an important lesson, it rings so true you suspect that Rogers is really Frankie -- and wonder how he could have made the story seem so real and personal if he's not. In fact, there are strong parallels between this tale and that of Garnet and his real-life brother, the late folksinger Stan Rogers. Be that as it may, it's a track that will likely move you, and it's not the only one here that should.

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