Blues journeyman turns in satisfying set
Reviewed September 2009
From the Water
By Colin Linden
High Romance Music: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Canadian Colin Linden has established himself as blues-roots guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer with a string of solo discs dating back to 1980, producing 60 albums and being a member of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, a sort of Canadian roots-rock Cream. Along the way, he has featured members of The Band on his recordings, played in Bruce Cockburn’s band, and garnered a Grammy nomination and numerous other awards. His new disc is "From the Water."
From the start, this disc shows that Linden is a smooth pro who has mastered all manner of blues and country forms both as a singer and guitarist. Working with a straight guitar/bass/drums/keyboard band with occasional harp and horns, he nonetheless manages to convey a different feeling and atmosphere to each tune. A wise choice is the avoidance of making this a guitar showcase; the guitar playing is very good, but serves the songs rather than the other way around and most of the best playing is acoustic. Linden is a master of acoustic blues guitar, slide and finger-picking technique and the disc plays to his strengths. The material, mostly originals, is consistently strong.
The title tune opener is typical of the music here: acoustic guitars laying the groundwork for an echoed vocal that conveys the darkness of the swamp, broken only by the electric slide slashing. The bayou continues to be served by "Mon Couer Es Dans Tes Mains," as Linden displays his vocal range well in Cajun French and plays a tasty acoustic slide solo break. "Smoke 'Em All" uses great wordplay, intricately finger-picked blues licks, and a pulsing rhythm to create a memorable highlight. Linden rocks up things in "Trouble Comes in 3's," but the rollicking number still features good acoustic guitar fills. "John Lennon in New Orleans" is an interesting country tune with a haunting melody. Another blues-rocker, "The Price You Pay," churns with conviction as it tells the tale of women being like expensive, shiny cars that break down.
"From the Water" is a very satisfying collection that shows the considerable experience and talent of Colin Linden playing blues and roots music. It's an enjoyable listening experience and a real treat for fans of blues, especially those who appreciate a good acoustic guitarist.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.