Brokenjoe Long Walk To Nowhere

This Toronto trio is a new project comprised of seasoned veterans of the city’s blues scene. Joe Toole and Jerome Godboo powered the popular and much-missed the Phantoms, while bassist Alec Fraser is one of our best producers. He’s at the console for this excellent debut disc, an acoustic offering that harkens back to a ’20s era roots sound. Blues, country, folk and bluegrass elements intertwine seamlessly, and banjo, string bass and harmonica play key instrumental roles. All three members sing and contribute individual originals alongside eight traditional (mostly public domain) tunes. Their own songs are so convincingly authentic that you need to check the credits to confirm their origins, though the contemporary lyrics are sometimes a giveaway. The protagonist of Godboo’s amusing "Dogman” is struck by lightning while golfing in the rain (not a common ’20s working man’s hobby), while "Jerry Stone” features a colourful, real-life Toronto character. Toole’s "Let’s Pretend I Did” is a safe sex cautionary tale, while his "The Hole” is mining accident blues set in Nova Scotia. Staples-like murder ballads and train songs are included, but in a fresh vein. The album’s six-and-a-half-minute tour de force is "Omie Wise,” featuring Jerome’s haunting harmonica, Joe’s sparse banjo and a great vocal performance from Toole (a little Dave Alvin-like, actually). A slight editing down from the 17 tracks may have been merited but the result remains a compelling work worthy of attention. (Independent)