The Review Zone – BRUCE COCKBURN : Bone On Bone

BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On BoneBRUCE COCKBURN : Bone On Bone. (True North Records : B071S7RPSX)

If you’re already familiar with Cockburn (and if not, where have you been for the last thirty years?) then you know what you’re in for. Intelligent lyrics (he’s never going to chant “I love your body” for three minutes, is he?), half-sung, half-recited over very accomplished (mostly) acoustic guitar playing (see the instrumental “Bone On Bone” for a particular example of his skill), plus band, but they generally sit back letting the main man take the lead, adding flourishes here and there, all very good in a Dire Straits/Neil Young/Johnny Cash sort of way. Opening with the country-rock-by-numbers “States I’m In” (the first single from the album) and “Stab At Matter” (the latter with a shoutalong chorus), the album kind of finds a groove that it likes and then mostly sits there. “Looking And Waiting” has a nice shuffle to it and “False River” some musical licks that grab your ears. Lyrically there are hints of a faith making sense of the world aroundabouts, but mostly it seems to reflect on the journey of life: as the statement at the top of his web site puts it, “Part of the job of being human is just to try to spread light, at whatever level you can do it”, which is a fair summary. “Al Purdy’s” has some nice lines (“I’m the product of some parents the sort who shouldn’t breed”) and “Jesus Train” is reminiscent of Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming” material in terms of metaphors (and not just the railway references). I was thinking “Twelve gates to the city” was getting a bit repetitive until ultimately he sang “doesn’t matter what tribe you’re from there’s a way in for you” and it suddenly made sense. Every song reminded me of something else (not by Cockburn), which somewhat detracts from the songs themselves as you spend time trying to work out what it is you’re thinking of rather than listening to the track itself. The album displays an artist very comfortable with where he is: there’s an effortlessness to the playing and arrangements that is very smooth, but lacks some of the edginess that made Cockburn stand out in his early days. It’s very well done but is somewhat eclipsed by what precedes it. Best track: “Al Purdy’s.” 6/10. Paul Ganney

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