Gordie Tentrees “Mean Old World”

Independent, 2021

Far-flung Canadian acoustic, rootsy goodness. Rich and rewarding.

From the vast wilderness of the Yukon, to suburban ears in the United Kingdom. Probably not the journey that the Canuck folkies of a century gone by were envisaging, but these sounds do travel habitually well. We’re told that this suite of songs were recorded during a week of -35 degrees weather: that’s all well and good, but I bet these tough guys have never been out on a winter’s night in Leeds wearing just a t-shirt, jeans and espadrilles. Let’s not digress, eh? This is an enjoyable, no frills or fuss, simple and honest record. Tentrees has a light voice yet it carries hints of pleading and of menace, as the song(s) dictate(s).  Tentrees was a talented amateur boxer; he knows how to summon up the menace when needed!

Aided by a gaggle of musical partners in crime (percussion, mandolin, pedal steel et al.), Tentrees fires a brooding opening salvo in ‘Wind Walker’, which speaks of his close ties to the indigenous people and the peculiarities of rural Canadian folk. Ten albums into a musical career hasn’t had any noticeable effect on the freshness of these tracks, whether they’re rolling down a (frozen) bluegrass road, as in ‘Far Away Friends’ or sounding a darker, almostRawhidey’ tone in ‘Danke’. ‘Every Child’ is a beautifully sad song, drawn in part from Tentrees experiences as part of a family living within the Canadian benefits system. ‘Rosetta’ strikes from a similar personal vein and speaks also of the dark legacy that indigenous Canadians carry with them. Closer ‘Ring Speed’ is an honest to goodness square dance – a breakneck speed banjo explosion with Tentrees spitting out semi-autobiographical, fighter turns folkie epithets like a backwoods Michael Stipe. It’s one of the most enjoyable musical full stops of the year.

As if we didn’t already know, the remotest roads often take us to the most rewarding musical destinations.

Mean Old World by Gordie Tentrees

8/10
8/10

About Mark Nenadic 96 Articles
Quite likes music. Doesn't really like people. From The North. Exiled in The Midlands due to radical views on whippets/flat caps. Beards and plaid shirts belong on Willie Nelson. Everybody else should smarten up a bit ..

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