I am presently listening to Colin Linden's most recent recording, Still Live (Yellow Dog Records) and realized that I had reviewed one of his earlier albums a few years back. I will writing a review of the new release in a few days, but I thought I would also post this review from a few years back. I received a review copy from a publicist or the record label. The review appeared originally in the August 2009 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 319).
Canadian Colin Linden has been playing blues and blues-related roots for some time and has a new CD, From the Water (True North) that certainly will enhance his reputation as a thoughtful and skilled player and singer. This disc is comprised mostly of his originals (some penned with others), the record benefits from his often restrained approach.
The opening title track has a hypnotic groove akin to that of the North Mississippi Hills Country bands but benefits from a lighter accompaniment. His silences speak more effectively than some of the unrestrained heavy metal approach of some award-winning blues groups from Mississippi. This is followed up by a lovely ballad sung in French, again with spare backing which makes his strong slide solo stand out . An old Blind Teddy Darby recording is the source for a superb country blues performance of Built Right On the Ground, with Paul Reddick adding some nice harmonica support to Linden’s spellbinding guitar and vocal. Smoke 'Em Down, again sports a light accompaniment with Linden on acoustic guitar with Gary Craig using brushes on his drums as he sings about a barrelhouse pianist whose left hand would smoke ‘em all.
A more rock and roll blues groove follows with Trouble Comes in 3’s, with a melody suggestive of Lieber & Stoller’s Riot in Cell Block 9, although his vocal sounds slightly mannered, and drummer Craig is not as supple. Between the Darkness and the Light of Day, is more of a blues-tinged contemporary folk original with an uplifting lyric of pushing on through life’s obstacles, followed by his spiritual vision on I Have Seen a Miracle, with perhaps more of a country flavor and a vocal that would have been home with The Band. Devilment takes us back with a hokum feel on a lyric of a woman seemingly innocent but having devilment on her mind with lovely piano by John Whynot. John Lennon in New Orleans, has a surreal lyric about being a wanted man no one can recognize with a soulfully sung vocal.
The remaining tracks are as deftly performed and Linden and his collaborators have written some very strong originals that display plenty of heart without any bombast. Linden’s mix of blues and blues-based roots material here and his understated, but heartfelt performances, makes for a stunning recording.
Here is a video of Colin Linden performing the title track, From the Water.