Marcel Gagnon,
The Watchman - Tom Crow
(Vu-Fox, 2002)

Marcel Gagnon's The Watchman - Tom Crow is a mixed bag of folk-pop-country-blues which might have benefited from more judiciously considered arrangements and stronger, focused lyrics.

Gagnon wrote all the tracks on the CD, and as the haunting instrumental "Magnitude" suggest, his strength lies in the melodic line. Most of his lyrics are mediocre with weak rhymes and simplistic, underdeveloped themes. The exception is "Shipwrecked," which has as its central metaphor the image of friendship being a ship that has to endure storms and well as sail on calm waters. The narrator in the song remains true to his own ship even when "fair weather" friends abandon him.

This track, however, suffers from a musical arrangement that smothers the melody and drowns out Dianna McNolty's lovely harmonies. I would love to hear this song performed in a spare, simple style without the country-pop trappings.

The full throttle sound is appropriate on other tracks such as "Master of the House" and "So Called Friends" but the overall quality of the CD would benefit from a bit more variety in the arrangements. Gagnon's voice is pleasantly unpolished with gravelly overtones, and it is versatile enough to suit the range of songs. He is more than amply supported by a number of people, but sometimes, less is more.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 26 July 2003