Chuck Brodsky,
Color Came One Day
(Waterbug, 2004)

Chuck Brodsky's voice has an unassuming, conversational quality to it -- slightly rough-edged but soft and warm. From the start of Color Came One Day, his sixth recording in 10 years, one senses the presence of a sensitive friend.

With a painter's eye for detail, Brodsky illuminates the lives of real people. The bartender pouring "The 9:30 Pint" ("for whomever wanders in/It's not for me to wonder or ask/where they might have been") and the person living "Seven Miles Upwind" of a paper mill and dares to complain about the pollution that burns his eyes. Several songs speak directly to the challenge of the folksinger's life: "Al's Ashes & Me" pays tribute to the late Al Grierson ("Al's ashes and me, we sleep in motels, where we have to be out by 11 or 12 ... Al could do better describing the smells, 'cause Al, you see, he was a poet"). "The Room Above the Bar" accurately and humorously describes the touring musician's typical accomodations.

My personal favourites include the simple and melodic "G'ddamned Blessed Road" and "The Ballad of Stan Rogers and Leo Kennedy," in which Brodsky looks down from the hillside upon the Stan Rogers Festival "the year I was on the bill." Without going into detail here, I can offer that I shared much of the same perspective and was fortunate to catch Brodsky's performance on the mainstage in Canso.

Color Came One Day is a record for folk purists who appreciate simple melodies and chord structures paired with literate and insightful story-style lyrics. The overall mood is consistent but never dull, with gentle ballads and slightly more up-tempo bluegrassy numbers. Many songs are political but none of them are strident.

Special mention should be made of JP Cormier's production and instrumental accompaniment. An outstanding musician, Cormier provides tasteful and inventive accompaniment on guitars, bass, mandolin, percussion, keyboards and vocals. The backing instrumentation never distracts the listener from Chuck Brodsky's wry observations, just puts them in a very appealing frame.

This is an excellent album from a fine songwriter.

- Rambles
written by Joy McKay
published 3 September 2005

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