The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” When written by L.P. Hartley, those words began a nostalgic return to youth, a painful analysis of love versus castes, and a series of moments that changed Leo Colston forever.


Montreal folkster James Irwin could have opened his new LP, Blue Dust with the same words. The 37-minute solo record from the former My People Sleeping front man reveals at a pain that didn’t simply hurt Irwin, it shook him to the core. The songs aren’t built from cleverly turned of phrases or perfect similes. No, when Irwin admits, “it’s been a fuck of a year” on “Nothing at All”, that primal, simple description is the only one he can find. All we can do is agree and hope his pains ends soon.


Blue Dust is not for the weak of heart. Weariness. Escape. Death. Loss. Irwin channels the ghosts that plague us all. The biggest surprise is that Irwin manages to make those ghosts beautiful, engaging and surprisingly inviting by surrounding his sadness with picked acoustic, strings, piano and even a Reed like cool (“Sister”). James may seem like he’s on the verge of giving up, but these layers simply don’t allow it. “I Went Clear” uses strings and a triumphant surge to justify Irwin’s questions and while he might be shattered, Irwin isn’t broken and that’s why we can all connect to Blue Dust.

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MP3:: James Irwin - Blue Dust