Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams
Toronto-based singer-songwriter Corin Raymond arrived on my radar about seven years ago thanks to a brilliant song called “There will Always be a Small Time,” a piece I described at the time as “a near-perfect piece of songwriting.” But, just as there is so much more to Ian Tyson than “Four Strong Winds,” or to Gordon Lightfoot than “The Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” or to Leonard Cohen than “Suzanne,” or to so many other examples, there is more to Corin Raymond than “There will Always be a Small Time.”
That is more than evident on Corin’s new album, “Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams,” a set of nine fine songs he either wrote or co-wrote, and one cover.
Corin is a singer-songwriter whose work engages the listener, the words and melodies combining to draw listeners into the stories he’s telling – and whether the stories are autobiographical or about other people, real or fictional, it’s the story that matters with the lyrics, music, arrangement and delivery all in service to the story.
The album opens strongly with “Hard on Things,” co-written with Rob Vaarmeyer, in which he conversationally describes all those things he’s hard on – from his body to many material things and, by implication (“I’ve worn out two gold wedding rings”), his relationships.
Among the other highlights are “Under the Belly of the Night,” co-written with Jonathan Byrd, which pays tribute to fallen early rock ‘n’ roll and R&B heroes Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson and to how their music endures so many decades after their deaths; “Two Miles of Trains,” co-written with Raghu Lokanathan, an upbeat, infectious celebration of hobo culture (the album’s title comes from this song); and “Morning Glories,” a piano-based tribute to some of the characters – flawed but good-hearted folks – that one might encounter walking around a rundown Toronto neighbourhood.
Corin Raymond makes you care about the people in these songs.