Gordon Lightfoot Harmony

At 65, Canada’s famed troubadour returns with his 20th album — a historic feat considering the Orillia native was felled during a concert in his hometown in September 2002, and remained in a coma for six weeks. On Harmony, Lightfoot’s once powerful pipes are a little more weathered from years of road living. His vocal prowess is irrelevant, however, since Lightfoot’s claim to folk fame has always been his songwriting, and here his keen observations about love, loss and loneliness are as poetic as ever. The disc was officially launched on May 10 at Centuries Bar & Lounge in the basement of Massey Hall as fellow musicians such as Tom Cochrane, and Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor lent their support their songwriting godfather. Appropriately two songs ("Shellfish” and "The No Hotel”) were recorded live in May 2001 at the Grande Dame on Toronto’s Shuter Street since Lightfoot has played there almost every year for more than three decades. The highlight is "Inspiration Lady,” one of Lightfoot’s best songs in years. The title track is an unforgettable ballad that captures the pain of a failed relationship. "End of All Time” is another classic Lightfoot love ballad that echoes "If I Could Read Your Mind.” Later, Lightfoot pays homage to his hometown with the rhythmic "Couchiching.” Overall, Harmony finds a legendary singer-songwriter still exercising his musical muscles after 40 years. (Linus)