Justin Rutledge And The Junction Forty No Never Alone


On this debut CD by Toronto singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge, the first thing that comes to mind is that this is the sound of an accomplished country veteran. Amazingly, Rutledge is only 25. The album’s ten exceptional tracks are an authentic and respectful nod to true country and western music. His influences may indeed be diverse, but off-the-shelf "alt-country” this is not. The album wastes no time in proving this, setting the stage right from the impressive opener "To Sober To Sleep,” a song that seems warmly familiar after only one listen. Accompanying Rutledge is a large supporting cast in the form of the Junction Forty (actually only 19), including Mary Margaret O’Hara, who joins in on "A Letter To Heather” and Burke Carroll who adds the essential and inspired pedal steel guitar throughout the album. Rutledge’s ongoing Monday residency at Toronto’s Cameron House has provided fertile ground for him to perfect his craft, which shines so brightly on No Never Alone. This is an album of honest reflection on life in Canada, both good and bad. His crisp and haunting vocal style is straight from the heart, and further enhances his ability to tell captivating stories through song. Interestingly, Rutledge has attracted attention outside of Canada, catching the ear of England’s Neil Halstead (Mojave 3), who released this album on his own Shady Lane label. Hopefully Canada will soon catch up and take notice of this outstanding album by a gifted young songwriter. (Shady Lane)