Paul Mills,
The Other Side of the Glass
(Borealis, 2006)

It was more than 30 years ago at the Winnipeg Folk Festival that Paul Mills first performed using the name Curly Boy Stubbs. He has appeared under that name on most of the albums he has produced along the way. And now with The Other Side of the Glass he has finally recorded his own music under his own name. It is a mixture of old and new music, and it is all very good.

The CD starts off with a rollicking good time in "Doc's Guitar," a piece that feels longer than it is. He pays tribute to Stan Rogers with "45 Years" and there is so much love in the song, at several different levels. He puts together a triad of pieces in the "Lost Forest Medley," and each one steps cleanly into the next. "The Yard Sale Song" is a light-hearted look at sales, with part of the bartering appearing in the lyrics.

He plays a signature Stubbs tune, "Stubbs Stomp," and the piece whirls on by and leaves you wanting more. The tenderness of "Blues is Like Shoes" underscores the preciousness of some of the moments portrayed as it speaks of some of the differences between young and old. There is an old-time feel to "The Dallas Rag," and the piece is a moment of calm. The quiet sorrow in "Shoulder of the Road" brings the moment to a close, with the end of a relationship gone very wrong.

The second half starts with another tribute to Rogers in "Clank Remembers." The mood lightens for "With a Twist," a rather laidback song that takes its time. There is joy in "The Ukulele Match," you can almost hear the marcher beam as the piece moves along. The music of "Last Steam Engine Train" feels like it is rolling down the line.

Sometimes one is just a little too late, and "Albert's Cove" tells one such story. Sometimes the story of the song adds to it, and "I am Truly Thankful" is made even more beautiful by its history. Mills is joined by the Woods Chorale on "Times We'll All Remember," and the added voices add emphasis to the words. The CD closes with another ragtime piece, "The London Scratch," and the lively number is reason to hit repeat after it is done.

Mills has crafted a wonderful CD that's marked by passion in the songs and in his comments in the liner notes. Read them -- sometimes the stories and relationships to the songs add to the song itself.

by Paul de Bruijn
17 March 2007

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