Album Reviews

Bruce Cockburn – Speechless

(Cooking Vinyl) UK release date: 26 September 2005

Many individuals appear overtly critical of solo artists and groups whose music career appears to wane after just a couple of years. Apparently, the bands of today simply have no staying power. Yet, do artists really need to be at the top of the charts every week for their music to have a true impact?

When one considers this in relation to Bruce Cockburn quite an interesting situation arises. After forging his solo career in 1969 the Canadian singer has over 25 albums to his credit. However. are his obvious sale success’ indicative of his talent as an accomplished artist? As a Cockburn virgin – and now sedate convert – I was quietly impressed, if not unhealthily relaxed, after listening to his latest instrumental offering Speechless

Admittedly, when the visually bland CD case landed on my doormat the image of an old man with a guitar hardly filled me with rapture. I guess it just goes to show you really never should judge a CD by its cover.

Arguably Cockburn’s music is a mix of gentle rock and folk with an occasional jazz lilt. It is extremely relaxing (perhaps a little too lulling at times) but it makes for ideal quiet time. The majority of the tracks encompass Cockburn and a guitar that offers a greater degree of variation than you may expect given his clever use of control and pace. Mistress Of Storms really is wonderful – one that stands apart from all the other tracks, Gary Burton on the vibes brings the secret ingredient. With sounds echoing that of the music that plays in children’s jewellery boxes the entire track has a very nostalgic, shy-smile feel.

This particular album further showcases Cockburn’s talent as an instrumentalist. The album is understated and melodic but at the same time speaks volumes.

In certain cases popularity doesn’t always equal talent. Cockburn, despite having both longevity and undoubted talent, remains an acquired taste. Having said that he doesn’t appear to be disappearing anytime soon and he certainly has ensured his status as a timeless artist. Why not sharpen that musical ear and decide for yourself?

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More on Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Cockburn – Slice O Life: Live Solo
Bruce Cockburn – Speechless