George Meanwell | Another Street
Midnight Island Music 13 Tracks 46 minutes

This album is a rich mixture. Behind George’s guitar and piano playing is his experience as one of Canada’s premier cellists. The musicians who back him are among the best in the jazz world, notably Brian Barlow on percussion and John Johnson on saxophones.

His voice is clear and present, and in his attack you can easily hear tones of Mose Allison, Dylan and Lightfoot and Hank Williams and Leonard Cohen (whom he’s covered elsewhere), Lyle Lovett and the Beatles. His songs come in a lot of flavours including Rag, Raggy Hokum Blues, Honky-tonk, Country, Folk-roots, and lyrical ballad. Meanwell has listened to a lot of music and absorbed what he needed to forge a style that is unmistakably his own, albeit marked by the inevitable Nashville twang “nuthin’ lack tahm” = nothing like time.

The proof is in the songs. Thirteen originals here, all marked by, can you believe it, intelligence, and a sensitivity often arrayed in a wry wit. The songs are well made, which means the forms are simple with repetitious refrains, ”Fish don’t feel the hook,” but you can listen carefully to the words for story and word play, ”They won’t see the woods/When we cut down the trees.” The tempos vary, the personae are multiple, the arrangements are great. The title song is excellent.

Stanley Fefferman for The Live Music Report

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