Published Oct 30, 2015It's safe to say that Dave Clark's Woodshed Orchestra are, and always have been, all about love. On Guest Book (the band's second album this year) they broaden their already wide and rotating cast of collaborators, bringing in a series of guest singers to carry and colour that soulful vision.
The project started with Clark's idea to get Ron Sexsmith to sing "Starry Eyed," which was a very good idea; Sexsmith's signature croon is harnessed over an irresistible waltz, and if you're not slow dancing halfway through, then I just don't know about you.
In typically playful and spontaneous fashion, Clark kept the identity of the singers from the band until they were in the studio together (even in the case of pianist/accordionist Tania Gill's husband, Victor Bateman, who duets with her on sentimental mid-album highlight "Echoes").
The collection runs the gambit of funk ("This World's In Love With You," with Suzie Vinnick), soul ("Momma Go Talk To Your Daughter," with Amanda Rheaume) and early rock'n'roll ("You Gotta Shake It," with Dani Nash) and remains experimental — some of its more eccentric moments are the psychedelic, mariachi-klezmerish "Digital Blues" (with Friendly Rich and Susanna Hood and Myk Freedman on unlikely use of lap steel) and the frenetic "Troubadours," featuring Kevin Breit along with his daughter Iris, who shouts out solos like a pro.
But mostly the Woodshed are out to charm rather than be weird this time (though those two things are hardly mutually exclusive). "U Don't Have 2 Cry," featuring Amanda Balsys of Kingston's the Gertrudes and the Wilderness of Manitoba is just sublime. (Independent)