Stunning collection of songs that will be one of the lasting classics of the year.
The rattling percussion and graveyard choir of opening song ‘Thirty Six Miles’ goes straight to the heart of Cannon’s assertion that: “These songs are secular spirituals, each song a simple cautionary tale”. In ‘Thirty Six Miles’ he measures the cultural distance between his upbringing and that of his Zuni Indian friends expressing his heartache that, “the ancient ones don’t talk to me.” ‘Years Go Down’ is a song about enduring love. “I keep on looking at the young ones. They are so pretty but so young, I’ll pick the grey and thoughtful one”.
It comes as no surprise to find that Cannon has scored over 20 films and documentaries between the 70s and 90s as there is a cinematic quality to these songs. Neil Young comes to mind on the title song. ‘Marching off to War’ could easily have featured in Ken Burns’ series on the American Civil War. It brings to mind the old West better than anything since the self-titled album from The Band. ‘Johnny Come in from the Cold’ keeps that feel with a slow barroom piano over a tale that brings the bleak winter prairie to mind. Cannon’ calls his work American Desert Music, but that is the grass plains rather than sand.
‘Riding through the Burn’, may or may not actually be about a fire, but as a song that suggests hope is always there, over a Cello backing, it is both bleak and uplifting. Tarantula March‘, swaps an Oboe for the Cello, and like about half the songs here comes in well under three minutes.
Cannon says in the sleeve notes to the CD version of the album, ‘”impermanence was the driving force for this collection of songs. Oddly enough, the quest has turned from the brutal truth of nothin’ lastin’ to trying to find what endures. Even making vinyl and CD versions feels like more durable technologies to save these songs from the pyre of time.” This could actually be one of the most substantial and enduring releases of 2022. AUK named his band 3hattrio best band of 2018, and Nothin’ Lastin’ is likely to be a strong contender for our December round up of best albums.
Cannon’s last word on his press sheet is: “I’ve been a folklorist, an explorer, all of my life. With “Nothin’ Lastin,” I bare my soul, a territory balancing near the precipice. I only ask you listen to my songs with an open heart.”