Marcel Gagnon,
Crazy Maker
(Vu-Fox, 2001)

Marcel Gagnon appears to be a man on a mission. He's dedicated this unique album to the survivors of residential schools and he sings emotionally about the process: "The wizards came, we had no-where to hide/You stole our kids and locked them up inside/Our beliefs, our tongues, our clans, almost destroyed/Preaching, gloating, and truly overjoyed." Not only can I relate to the words, but as a Scottish descendant whose history includes suffering under the swords and laws of the over-bearing English (Gaulic memories are long ones!) I admire the beautiful way he slaps his people's tormentors and releases his frustrations.

Crazy Maker takes you on a journey of pain and suffering, and asks the universal question that seems to have no answer -- why do bad things happen to good people?

Again he laments the native situation as he sings, searching for an answer, "What's a man supposed to do/Turn his eyes from brown to blue?" I find such deep sorrow in this. It's an absurd reality that makes someone reach the point of even thinking such a thing, and yet his voice reaches out to ask it.

However, beyond all that, the CD is musical magic. It has style and flair. Marcel's voice is so smooth, warm and humble and the music is an entertainment fantasy of rhythm guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, flute and saxophone (and the saxophone is not overdone). There are hints of blues and funky jazz here, but most songs are anybody's music.

There's a lot of music created purely for entertainment with little meaning in it, and there's a lot of music that hits you over the head with meaning but has little entertainment value. So a recording like this, where Gagnon and his band offer an equally super mix of entertainment and message, we find an artistic creation that is universal and timeless. This is really, really worth a listen.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 15 March 2003