Gordon Lightfoot's friendly folk sound grew even stronger on Summer Side of Life, an album that has him curling up with both his guitar and his kind, fragile voice. Even though the album that preceded it, 1970's Sit Down Young Stranger, fared better on the charts, Summer Side of Life followed in its footsteps, proving that Lightfoot was going to be around for quite a while. His approachable, confiding sound is best heard within the earnestness of the title track, and on the country bumpkin fritter of "Cotton Jenny," a song later covered by fellow Canadian Anne Murray. Lightfoot's singing rests lightly on his acoustic guitar, a trait that would become even more recognizable in his future work, but here it is found in tracks like "Same Old Loverman" and "Redwood Hill," and in the vagabond feel of "Go My Way." Not only do the songs begin to embrace his trademarked cottage country ambience on this album, but Lightfoot begins to reveal his love of Canadiana on tracks like "10 Degrees & Getting Colder," "Love & Maple Syrup," and "Nous Vivons Ensemble," which translates into "we all live together." With Gordon Lightfoot's honest, unhindered composure now becoming well-known in the U.S. and not just in Canada, Summer Side of Life helped strengthen his songwriting and refine his delicate vocal style, which, in turn, made 1972's Old Dan's Records and 1973's Don Quixote two of his best albums.
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AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne