David Baxter Day & Age

David Baxter Day & Age
David Baxter is something of the unsung hero of the Toronto roots music scene. He found a degree of new wave fame with the Sharks in the '80s and has since been active as both a guitarist and producer of real skill. He has had a long creative partnership with Lori Yates (one tune they recorded together in Hey Stella, "Do You Think Of Me," is reprised successfully here), played a key role in the career of Justin Rutledge and produced albums by the likes of Bob Snider and Treasa Levasseur. Long overdue, he steps into the solo spotlight with his debut album, Day & Age. Levasseur and Rutledge provide instrumental and vocal accompaniment, Brian Kobayakawa (Creaking Tree String Quartet) plays bass and Baxter shines on guitar, mandolin, banjo and harmonium. An impressive list of comrades make subtle cameos, including Jenn Grant, Burke Carroll, Old Man Luedecke, Catherine MacLellan, Ron Sexsmith, Blake Manning and Paul Reddick. Grant's harmony vocal on the lovely "Meet Me In The Willow Grove" is a standout, while a massed female chorus on "Marching Into Glory" gives it a folk/gospel feel. This is a sombre, melancholy, reflective album, with Baxter ruminating on the passage of time and loves past and present. He cites Willie Nelson as an inspiration for the sound of this all-acoustic record, while his understated and laconic vocal delivery is occasionally reminiscent of Ian Tyson. It is especially effective on the affecting title track, a seven-minute tune that closes out this highly impressive work. (Proper Channels)