Adam Baldwin No Telling When (Precisely Nineteen Eighty-Five)
Published Jun 24, 2016Smooth piano and saxophone open the first few seconds of Adam Baldwin's classic rock-infused new album, No Telling When (Precisely Nineteen Eighty-Five), but that introductory instrumentation is far from the only Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band-evoking moment on this fantastic LP.
Throughout, Baldwin (a Dartmouth, NS-bred musician and band member for fellow Nova Scotian rocker Matt Mays) sings with Boss-esque earnestness. "Anytime" is a midtempo ode to his lady that's all E Street '80s heyday: chiming, upbeat guitar; soft-voiced female backup singers at the climax; rich, full production throughout. "Daylight" features a gentle piano opening followed by crashing guitar and drums, plus underdog lyrics that evoke "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road."
But make no mistake: this LP is no shallow rip-off. Rather, Baldwin captures Bruce's essence, evoking the rockabilly that first inspired the elder rocker on "Love on the Rocks," to thrilling effect. More importantly, he also stakes out new lyrical territory that's all his own. The aforementioned "Daylight" is a fierce takedown of the Harper era, while also detailing his optimism about electing a new federal government (Baldwin partook in a deeply moving interview about the album's inspirations on a recent episode of CBC's q. Then there's "Rehtaeh," a moving song dedicated to Rehtaeh Parsons.
Baldwin doesn't just stick to heart-wrenching specifics, either. Case in point: "Sparrow Song," which features rapid, jabbing percussion that makes for an opening as epic, dramatic and enthralling as a song will have all year. On it, Baldwin sings about the heights that he and his former lover could have reached, and his climactic, soaring "What I would have done" refrain is deeply relatable to anyone who has ever endured a broken heart. These elements make "Sparrow Song" perfectly situated as the sixth of these nine tracks, a beautiful centrepiece that won't be the first — and most certainly won't be the last — moment that moves you as you listen to this enthralling LP. (Sonic Records)