Bruce Cockburn

Joy Will Find a Way

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Though it will appeal to the converted, Joy Will Find a Way, Bruce Cockburn's sixth album, won't do much to garner support outside of these circles. As always, Cockburn is never less than literate, and his guitar is consistently impressive throughout (check out the instrumental "Skylarking"), but there remains the tendency to become overwrought lyrically, as well as to get bogged down musically in the sort of folkish repetition that can be more tiresome than entrancing. Still, like his previous efforts, Joy Will Find a Way contains the usual handful of scattered gems that keep the faithful coming back. His songwriting and acoustic guitar are once again at the center of economical, tasteful production, which, though grounded in folk, suggest touches of jazz, pop, and world music -- all of which are reflected in the feel of much of the material. Songs such as "A Long-Time-Love Song" and "January in the Halifax Airport Lounge," with its jazz-inflected electric piano, are warm and charming meditations on love, while "Joy Will Find a Way (A Song About Dying)" is built around a hypnotic, Indonesian-inspired arrangement, and "Burn" (the only real social statement here) is a moderately effective indictment of U.S. foreign policy, wrapped in island-flavored, folk-pop. Though he hadn't quite hit his stride at this point, this is the best of Bruce Cockburn's first half-dozen albums.

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