Stompin' Tom Connors An Ode For The Road

His position as a Canadian icon has never been in question, but the consistency of his recorded output has always been another matter. Mostly it's because his jokes don't always translate to all parts of the country he continues to love passionately, and that his attempts to pay tribute to them all often sound forced. Yet there probably hasn't been a better time for Connors to put out a record, given the renewed interest in old time music everywhere. Connors, for all his orneriness, still deserves to be acknowledged as Canada's contribution to that tradition. With that in mind, An Ode For The Road is a pretty good record. Connors seems more conscious that he's fronting a great band, which includes multi-instrumentalists Darren Parise and J.P. Cormier, and his vocals have arguably never been mellower. Despite feeling the need to revisit old material like "Roll On Saskatchewan" and "Red River Jane," new songs like the title track and "I'll Dream Alone" retain an even stronger air of timelessness. On the other hand, his tribute to Erika Nordby, the Edmonton toddler who survived a night outside in the dead of winter, is certainly heartfelt, albeit a little clumsy, as is (the admittedly hilarious) "Stompin' Tom Fan Tangle." Then again, what would a Stompin' Tom album be without a few songs like these? That's what makes him ours, and for that we should all be thankful. (EMI)