Chris Coole Old Dog

Chris Coole Old Dog
Via his work in the Foggy Hometown Boys and the Crazy Strings collective, Coole has long been a leading light on the Toronto bluegrass scene, while duo work with Appalachian fiddler Erynn Marshall has brought critical acclaim. Widely recognised as one of the top claw hammer banjo players around, he's equally at home in old time country styles. Old Dog, his debut solo album, neatly encapsulates the breadth of his talent. Five original tunes are led by the hauntingly weepy "The Bottle Got The Best Of Me" and album highlight "$100," a timely lament on the plight of today's musicians: "You make a record on your credit card, you try to sell a few but the man at the store tells you nobody pays for music anymore." Three traditional numbers, including fluent instrumental "The Hangman's Reel," are featured alongside covers of tunes by John Hartford and the Band. Coole's mellow take on "Six Days On The Road" is pleasant enough but there are enough versions of that classic out there. Such Toronto comrades as Burke Carroll, John Showman and Andrews Collins and Downing ensure that the playing is of the highest calibre, while guests Kristine Schmitt and Kristin Cavoukian add vocal variety. This is a fine offering. (Independent)