A couple weeks back Canadian based blogs Herohill, Slowcoustic, and Chicago based Song:Illinois (here) went a little overboard over Canadian singer-songwriter Cam Penner. There was some good natured ribbing and recrimination over the fact that I was first to discover this excellent Canadian singer-songwriter in their own backyard. Now I hate to say it but I’m going to do it again.
Chris Coole is a Toronto based clawhammer banjo player of some renown (in fact he may be one of the best in the world). He’s played with and for some great artists over the years (Jenny Whiteley, Jim Cuddy, Sylvia Tyson, and Justin Rutledge.) But it’s with this, his first solo record, Old Dog, that Chris has really stepped out/up. The album features 5 original songs as well as some traditional numbers and covers of songs by The Band, John Hartford and Dave Dudley. The record also features friends on fiddle, pedal steel, mandola, cello and percussion. The song styles range from traditional folk to honky-tonk to contemporary bluegrass. I like that Old Dog has a nice, easy, casual feel. The record sounds organic and the songs are a natural for Chris’ laid back vocal delivery and masterful guitar/banjo playing.
It was hard to pick just one song since there’s a variety of styles on the record and since there are so many fine songs. But I forced myself to choose one and it’s the Chris Coole original “Hell To Pay” (although a close second was either the title track “Old Dog”, the duet called “The Bottle Got The Best Of Me” that reminded me of Prine/Dement, or the John Hartford cover “Wish We Had Our Time Together”).
Buy Old Dog here through Elderly Instruments.