CORIN RAYMOND & THE SUNDOWNERS
Local Rascal Records
Local Rascal Records
I discovered the music of Toronto singer-songwriter Corin Raymond in 2009 through a fine album called There will Always be a Small Time and its title track which I described as “a near-perfect piece of songwriting that captures the essence of why musicians are compelled to play music, of why songwriters are compelled to write songs, of why they’re compelled to play their music and perform their songs for whoever’s wanting or willing to listen, and of why they make records to sell from the stage. It’s a song that celebrates the human connections that are possible when real musicians play real music for real people without any kind of corporate filters.”
For his latest album – Paper Nickels, a 2-CD live set recorded with the Sundowners: Treasa Levasseur on accordion and piano, David Baxter on guitar and mandolin, and Brian Kobayakawa on upright bass – Corin has taken the small time to new heights by not only enlisting support by his fan base to finance the album, something many artists now do, but by getting them to do it by sending in their Canadian Tire money. He collected enough Canadian Tire money – those paper nickels – to finance the two CDs within a hard cover booklet that includes the story of the album (“The Great Canadian Tire Caper of 2012”), stories about the songs and their writers (only four of the 20 songs were written or co-written by Corin) and the lyrics.
The songs Corin has chosen for this project are mostly written by other songwriters working that same small time for the same kinds of rewards and satisfaction that Corin referred to in that 2009 song.
While I enjoyed the album from start to finish, some of my favourite tracks include Max Metrault’s “Anastasia,” a lovely postmodern love song that makes you wonder what some of it is about while actually leaving no doubt about what it all means; Scott Cook’s “The Lord Giveth (and the Landlord Taketh Away”), an infectious ditty about little guys, big guys and the eternal class struggle; “Nine Inch Nails,” by Ridley Bent and Dustin Bentall, a clever little tune about music-crossed lovers; and David Ross Macdonald’s lovely “Time to Leave,” in which the narrator offers sage advice to a friend, or perhaps to himself, about recognizing the end of a relationship and the time to move on.
Another favourite is “Little Bird,” on which Treasa Levasseur takes over the lead vocal for a beautiful version of Jonathan Byrd’s heartfelt love song.
The Sundowners provide fine backup to Corin’s vocals and the live recording has a friendly feels-like-you-there in the small club ambiance that is helped by leaving in the between song patter.