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Canadiana – Philip Rambow (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

There are artists who have short, incendiary careers, burning their name into the annals of history before fading away and then there are those artist who seem to be part of the engine room for a much bigger musical concern. They might not always get the recognition that they deserve but you find their name cropping up in the most varied and sometimes unlikely places. Philip Rambow is just such an artist. He is one of the giants whose shoulders people get to stand on in that oft-quoted analogy.

If only for being the co-writer of Kirsty MacColl’s iconic There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis he would have the undying respect of the industry insiders and discerning pop-pickers alike. The fact that you will find his name associated with everyone from Brian Eno and Mick Ronson to Joan As Police Woman and those pun-tastic pub-rockers Tex Pistols, tells a much more impressive story.

Canadiana does what it says on the tin. Assuming that, musically speaking, Americana is a thing and even British-Americana, then why not Canadiana? And his take on the genre is a sweet blend of soulful country and jaunty folk, acoustic driven, understated and deftly crafted. Opener, American Buffalo, is a jaunty alt-country groover, restrained enough to keep the Nashville purists happy and infectious enough to have them up on their feet before the chorus kicks in. There is room for some lovely, lilting, final dance of the night, balladry courtesy of Out On Your Own, including some great boy-girl vocal sparring with Sharlene Hector and a lovely dose of wit and whimsey via Making Up For Lost Time’s sing-a-long sass. Any track which credits one of its players with “thigh-slapping and glockenspiel” has to be worth checking out.

It’s a lovely collection of music, one which shows a wonderful and perhaps more reflective side to this ubiquitous, varied and unparalleled song-writer.  

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