Bruce Cockburn – Crowing Ignites

Album Review | True North Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

There’s a double page spread in the accompanying booklet to Bruce Cockburn’s lastest album which show the singer songwriter and guitar player alone amidst an array of guitars and percussion, with his feet up, relaxed, lost in his own world. Known chiefly for his songwriting qualities, the Canadian musician is also more than capable of writing and recording stimulating instrumentals and with Crowing Ignites, Cockburn reveals eleven brand new and varied compositions. Produced by Colin Linden, the album is more than a soundtrack to Bruce Cockburn’s downtime, rather, an investigation into the moody relationship between the guitar and various percussion, such as chimes, shakers and ‘little ass’ bells on such pieces as “April in Memphis”, Bells of Gethsemane” and “Seven Daggers.”

Translated from the Latin Accendit Cantu, the title Crowing Ignites appears on the family crest, which stretches back through Cockburn’s Scottish ancestry and is effectively tapped into here on Pibroch: The Wind in the Valley, a piece drawing from the classical bagpipe tradition. Trance like, the dulcimer shimmers to Cockburn’s trademark alternating thumb pattern. In a way the album is reminiscent of Richard Thompson’s 1981 Strict Tempo! record, where so much is said, without a word being spoken. In some places dreamlike and in others blues oriented, certainly on “Blind Willie”, Cockburn’s tribute to his blues hero Blind Willie Johnson, Crowing Ignites is anything but elevator music. If I had a copy of this album on vinyl, it would probably fit neatly between Strict Tempo and Ry Cooder’s Jazz, not bad company.

Choice Track: “Blind Willie” (NSV 486)