DAVID REED: Nature a force of sound; Poets deal out the blues

David Reed

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Ben Gunning – Nature

(Independent, 2019)

Samplers, drum machines and synthesizers abound! This record is gloriously textural.

I first heard Ben Gunning’s music when he was a member of Local Rabbits, back in 2001. My friend Don Kerr had just produced their album, This is It Here We Go and he suggested that I might want to check them out. That record grabbed me by the throat and shook me with its crunchy guitars and rich vocal harmonies. Instant classic. Fill Them In… gorgeous. Get a copy of that record if you can find one. There are also guest appearances by Dave Bidini and Martin Tielli of Rheostatics.

Now, 18 years later, Local Rabbits are no more and I’m listening to Ben Gunning’s fourth solo record.

Hold On to Your Decency has a heavy dance beat and falsetto vocals that simultaneously evoke elements of Michael Jackson and Jamiroquai. Greensprawl has a percolating funky groove that could almost be a Prince track.

Who Will Pull the Mask Off has some delicious ’80s synth tracks and more bubbly percussion. Contour Rivarly has a hint of Boards of Canada with its synthetic soundscape and rich colours.

Other highlights include Keeper, Beware the Boy, and the Absolute (wicked synth bass).

Nature is a force of sound, or this sound is a force of nature. Either way, listen with headphones.

Durham County Poets – Hand Me Down Blues

(Independent, 2019)

This Canadian folk and roots group from Ormstown, Quebec is currently touring their fourth album, Hand Me Down Blues. Frontman Kevin Hartman went to a Muddy Waters concert in 1981 and it changed his life. You can hear that influence here. The title track is a smoldering romp with top-notch playing.

There is a haunting performance of Saint James Infirmary with some outstanding lead guitar playing.

Other highlights include Help Me Change, the swampy Evil in My Heart, the Muddy Waters classic I Can’t Be Satisfied and a laid-back rendition of the Beatles anthem, With a Little Help From My Friends.

Durham County Poets are performing at the Old Church Theatre in Trenton on Friday October 11th. Check them out.

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