Kevin Bryan’s record reviews

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Bruce Cockburn,

“Bone on Bone”

(True North Records)

This politically aware singer-songwriter may have enjoyed a brief flirtation with fame and fortune when the subtly memorable “Wondering Where The Lions Are” soared into the higher reaches of the U.S. singles charts in 1980, but for much of his lengthy career he’s been something of a cult hero, delighting his devoted coterie of fans with material which often reflects his passionate interest in environmentalism and human rights. There’s certainly no danger of Cockburn opting to slip on some comfy slippers and grow old gracefully on the evidence presented by the great man’s 33rd album as he emerges from a lengthy self-imposed silence with a batch of freshly minted creations led by “Forty Years in the Wilderness” and his epic six minute tribute to the work of maverick poet Al Purdy, “3 Al Purdys.”

“American Road Trip”

(Universal Music)

The compilers of this highly listenable 3 CD set rather grandiosely describe it as “A 60 track journey through the heart of America,” and the contents certainly showcase a whole host of radio friendly rock and pop gems from the seventies and eighties, including, rather puzzlingly, contributions from British bands such as Whitesnake, Rainbow and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. As is the way with anthologies such as this the track listing juxtaposes much loved archive gems from such unlikely bedfellows as Kenny Rogers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blondie and Iggy Pop to remind listeners of an era when genuinely memorable material dominated the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

Rafal Blechacz,

“Johann Sebastian Bach”

(Deutsche Grammophon)

This absorbing vehicle for the talents of Rafal Blechacz finds the young Polish pianist applying his technical expertise to some of the most attractive works in Bach’s keyboard repertoire. The “A minor Fantasia and Fugue” and “Italian Concerto” provide two of the musical highlights, and this stunning package also finds Blechacz breathing new life into the ever popular Dame Myra Hess arrangement of “Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”

Arcade Fire,

“Everything Now”

(Columbia)

The fifth album from Montreal art-rockers Arcade Fire is an occasionally thrilling affair which finds the band experimenting with a variety of seemingly disparate genres from electro funk and synth pop to the expansive electronica of one of the stand-out tracks, “We Don’t Deserve Love.” The familiar marriage of uplifting musical content and distinctly downbeat lyrics still permeates much of their best work, and although “Everything Now” is by no means an unqualified success it still demands your undivided attention nonetheless.