Jeremy Proctor, |
Sundays & Mondays
(Wind Dragon, 2002)
It was quite by accident that I first heard Winnipeg native Jeremy Proctor play. He was in Ontario for a few weeks and played an opening set for Trevor Mills at Hugh's Room. I was blown away by his talent and charmed by his sense of humour; I didn't hesitate to pick up both CDs he had for sale. One of them was Sundays & Mondays, a wonderful collection of well-written and original folk songs and the follow-up to his critically acclaimed 1998 EP release.
Accompanying Proctor are Richard Moody (viola), Iain Whitaker (percussion), Bill Western (pedal steel) and Daniel Roy (percussion), as well as Ruth Moody (Scruj MacDuhk) on harmony vocals.
He is an insightful songwriter who pays attention to the little details that make up heartbreak, tragedy and comedy -- he's part tortured folk singer, part quirky observer of the world. His songs are simple and honest, ranging from sad to comical and back again. He opens the record with an upbeat song, "Wendy's Hands," which features Western's pedal steel. He continues with "John Was a Hard Working Man," a love story full of melancholy and regret; "The Phones for You," a comical look at living in a house with lots of other people; and "Harbor," a dreamlike journey.
"Grandpa was a Logger" features Ruth Moody's beautiful harmony, and Richard Moody's viola weaves sadness through the verses. Proctor has a strong, passionate and slightly unusual singing voice; the vocals are always the focus, and are always accompanied by his accomplished fingerstyle guitar playing (he studied with Canadian legend Don Ross).
Another favourite song of mine is "She's Got What it Takes," about how love can take over: "She's got all the moves to turn a man into a fool/She's a corkscrew to an alcoholic." Throughout the 10 songs on Sundays & Mondays, Proctor casually spills these little pearls of observation, like this one from the title track, a sweet ode to remembering: "I like the way you talk lightly of politics/as if you held the world cupped like water in your hands."
Jeremy Proctor is a talented artist who successfully mixes a razor-sharp wit and an appreciation for wordplay with sadness and introspection. It's his words that first made, and continue to make, the strongest impression on me. I was completely drawn in by the songs on this record; they make me wish that he came to play in Ontario more often.