Charlie Sohmer,
Dying to Have a Good Time
(Glowinghearts, 2007)

Charlie Sohmer, a Candian folk/country/roots musician and singer, prides himself on smiling a lot and feeling terrific every day. If you have to capture his music in a phrase, it would be good-time music. First off, he plays banjo and, as Pete Seeger once said, it's really hard to play sad music on a banjo. Not that Sohmer would want to. His songs bounce along, tap their toes and insinuate their beat into your skin. His own vocals, even when he's calling on you to call the ambulance or the cops, never seem anything less than delighted.

It's hard to feel bad in his company.

Speaking of company, he has assembled a fine backing group, all established Canadian musicians with excellent credentials, and has named them the Jazzed Up Hoodlums. These guys can play. They push Sohmer's songs along and while making good, imaginative and skillful music, never abandon the playful, good-time, let's-all-relax-and-enjoy-ourselves mood that Charlie Sohmer brings to the table.

The only problem with the CD is that all the emphasis on the ultimate joy can cause a casual listener to lose sight of what Sohmer is really doing: bringing light into the darkness. His subject matter isn't always bright and happy; there is an awareness of the dark side that he explores with insight and much more depth than is apparent on the surface. Keep the title of the CD in mind as you listen.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

26 April 2008

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