Gordon Lightfoot Harmony

In September of 2002, Gordon Lightfoot was felled by a life-threatening burst artery during a concert in his hometown of Orillia. After emergency surgery, Lightfoot remained in a coma for six weeks and, though he is much improved today, he is still recovering from his brush with death. While Lightfoot’s days as a live performer remained an afterthought next to concerns for his health, there was still the question of whether his newer songs would ever see the light of day. Months before the show in Orillia, Lightfoot had presciently entered a studio to record some of these songs by himself (just guitar and vocal) with the aim of getting demos down. He’d debuted a number of them already during stunning concerts stretching back to the summer of 2001, where Lightfoot’s distinctive vocals were well-supported by his ace band. While the legendary songwriter lay on his back in a Hamilton hospital bed, producer Bob Doidge and Lightfoot’s band worked towards fleshing out his principle recordings, overdubbing parts and bringing their new inventions to their originator for approval and insight. The end result is the lovely Harmony, Lightfoot’s 20th album and yet another pronouncement of his extraordinary gifts as a songwriter and musician. New classics in his canon include the cautionary "Flyin’ Blind” and the soulful "No Mistake About It.” The strength of the aforementioned live show is represented by Massey Hall renditions of "Shellfish” and "The No Hotel,” a wonderfully haunting song that Lightfoot affably claims took him more than ten years to write. Rather than releasing the kind of mortality-obsessed record that Bob Dylan was thought to have written with Time Out Of Mind (released after his own health scare), Lightfoot’s post-op album is reflective but not in any overly morose sense. A love song such as "End Of All Time” may be the closest to address the fragility of life but only sparingly so. In the end, Harmony is a joyous return to form for one of the world’s most accomplished singer-songwriters. (Linus)