Album Review of
Bone on Bone

Written by Mark Gallo
September 4, 2017 - 12:00am EDT
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Bruce Cockburn is much more than a singer-songwriter, although he is clearly that. He is also an extraordinarily gifted guitarist and he is in possession of an exquisite voice. He is enormously popular in Canada, where he has won 12 Juno Awards and has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. More than 30 albums into his career he continues to release masterpieces like this 11 song jewel. Lyrics are offered in the accompanying booklet in English and in French, reflecting the dual languages of his childhood home in Canada. “Mon Chemin” is a French language song. Those of us who do not speak the language will still recognize it as beautiful. The instrumental title piece is as impressive as any guitarist past or present. No bombast. Call it Burt Jansch meets Mississippi John Hurt. That stunning guitar work is in evidence in every song. The songs are rich with the words of an imaginative songsmith. The spirited “Stab At Matter” (“You got lamentation/you got dislocation/siren wailing and the walls come down.”) is accompanied by guitar, percussion and harmonica and has a bit of gospel in the air. “Café Society” takes a sideways glance at community organizations out of control all to a percussive beat, again with Cockburn on harmonica, amazing guitar and Ron Miles, the highly regarded trumpeter (“misery loves company/hey it’s a way to start the day”).  Other highlights are “3 Al Purdys”(“Al Purdies poems ate the name of the game/the winds of fate blow where they will/I’ll give you three Al Purdies for a twenty dollar bill”), “Looking and Waiting,” and False River” (“on the coastline/where the trees shine/in the unexpected rain/there’s the carcass/of a tanker”). No matter what you’re looking for you’ll find magic here.