Monday, November 9, 2009

Reviews:: Cam Penner Trouble & Mercy

I absolutely hate it when super blogger Craig Bonnell beats us to the punch on little known roots artists living in the Great White North. Not because he doesn't constantly offer up DIY gems for his readers, but because I like to think we have our finger on the (Canadian) pulse here at the Hill when it comes to an incredible talent like Manitoba's Cam Penner, well, we should have been in the know.

Cam's new record, Trouble & Mercy is devastating. The songs were written on a six month tour across North America and explore the differences between rich and poor, life on the road, love, lust and loss. These songs are the type born in in hotel rooms and grubby couches when the heartache and home sickness of being on the road for months finally wins out over wanderlust. The type of songs when emotions and thoughts float to the surface and surge through your body uncontrollably.

Remarkably even as he delves into these heartfelt emotions, Cam keeps a steady hand on Trouble & Mercy and when you think he might have hit rock bottom, you still get the impression that he knows life will get better. You can hear his heart break countless times on this record, but his need to keep fighting challenges any regret or pity you might feel and really pushes this record along and keeps you listening.

The album opener, All Of, showcases Penner's determined nature. Without shame, he admits he's willing to do whatever it takes to get back to his lover. The beautiful banjo and harmonies thicken the song, but make no mistake, All Of is one man's painful journey. Penner follows with the powerful 13, a tale of a convicted man that uses electric guitar and ominous steel to haunt your thoughts. The echoes of his picked notes and steel the band throws in on If You Love Somebody does the same.

Throughout this 11-song gem, Penner proves he's a fantastic song writer, formidable story teller (Once as a Soldier) and does all of this without trying to spin clever phrases or relying on pretentious word play. Penner speaks to the people as one of us. At one point, that's what we expected from folk artists, but somehow lately it's changed. Today, coffee shop strummers sing about their own life, unconcerned whether or not you can relate. For Cam, each and every lyric comes from the bottom of his heart, but it could be about any of us. If you can't relate to a song like Tired of this Town you've either lived a charmed life or you haven't lived at all.

Cam Penner - 13

Cam Penner - Hour of Need

MP3:: Cam Penner - 13

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Posted at 9:41 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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