Dennis Gomo,
(self-produced, 1999)

OK, I'm going to make an admission here. My first thoughts, when I hadn't even heard the album yet, were "Geez ... this guy is hot."

After a brief pause for a blush and a reality check (Dennis Gomo is happily married with children, and I'm a long way from Canada), I put the CD in. I was greeted with the lonesome sounds of loons and water, and shortly afteward, a sultry, smoky voice and mix of instruments that's more like a detailed tapestry than an album.

The first track is the one that leads in with the loons. Called "Nippising," after the Canadian lake of the same name, it is a soulful ballad that wraps around you like a blanket. Two songs melding spoken word and vocals follow -- "New World Order" which is a slide-guitar accompanied piece that is so catchy it's insidious, and "Away," a slow swing where the words are every bit as meaningful as the music.

I looked hard to see if there was anything wrong with the album or its production. Gomo self-produced Nippising, and if there are flaws, my ear isn't trained enough to spot them. The visual production of both the CD and the packaging is flawless and well-designed as well.

On a few of the tracks, Gomo's voice sounds a little bit overshadowed by the background singers until listened to a second or third time. Maybe I'm just listening closer now, but his deep, velvety drawl is quite evident and balanced.

And speaking of his drawl -- this was something that impressed me at the beginning, too. There is something that is nearly country/western about it from time to time. In most cases, this would be a big turn-off for me -- I grew up in the midwest and even snippets of country music usually sends me into fits. With Gomo's voice, though -- even though it's reminiscent of C&W, it's framed by such an amazing, eclectic collection of percussive elements and harmonica/guitar sounds that even the twang adds texture.

Gomo is in Australia for a year, playing at various folk clubs to take his family across the country. His album is still available, however. I highly recommend picking up a copy, putting it on as background for a quiet evening at home or for a small, intimate dinner. The music itself is so intimate that it can't help but facilitate the same.

Well worth a listen, Nippising is another CD that'll be on my shelf for a long, long time, but will never gather dust.

[ by Elizabeth Badurina ]