Bazil Donovan

Matinee

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Blue Rodeo's bassist steps out for his long-awaited first solo outing over 20 years after joining Canada's landmark band. Composed largely of old-time classic country recordings that Bazil Donovan learned stepping in for hung-over lead singers during matinee performances on Toronto's famed Queen Street over the years, the collection has a refreshingly retro feel -- one part Hank Williams, one part Patsy Cline, one part Jerry Lee Lewis. The Hank Mills classic "Little Ole Wine Drinker, Me" is here (which Donovan made famous covering in Blue Rodeo shows), as are numerous Shel Silverstein compositions (including the signature "I Got Stoned and I Missed It," which features a chorus consisting of members of Blue Rodeo and even their management team!). Guest musicians abound, including Greg Keelor, Jim Cuddy, and Bob Packwood of Blue Rodeo; Justin Rutledge; Lori Yates; Damhnait Doyle; and Travis Good. And the album has the feel of a party record -- like a bunch of musicians got together and jammed out the album. The song choice is fun, the playing is as perfect as you'd expect, and Donovan's vocals are perfectly in sync with his material. The highlight is actually a Keelor/Cuddy original, "Stage Door," which -- although originally written for this album -- was first recorded on Blue Rodeo's Palace of Gold album five years earlier. Undaunted by the majesty of the original production, Donovan reclaims the song and makes it his own -- an acoustic confessional that sheds new light on the lyric, "Ain't no mystery in what I need/It's understanding in your sweet sympathy/A steel string guitar and a little weed/Someone to keep me company...." On Matinee, Bazil Donovan has found many to keep him company -- and certainly the understanding in the sweet sympathy. One hopes it's not 20 more years before he finally releases a second solo project.

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