Tim Harrison Wheatfield With Crows

What first struck me about this release was that Van Gogh was enlisted to do the cover art. If that wasn’t distinguishing enough, I was further delighted to discover that Owen Sound native, Tim Harrison, has created a moody, melancholic mélange that falls somewhere between Gordon Lightfoot and Stan Rogers. It’s that good. Interesting to know that his debut was released in ’79, produced by Stan Rogers and engineered by Daniel Lanois. Seven releases later, Harrison suffers from that same fate of many who chart the lonely channels of purebred Canadian folk: relative anonymity. This rich release features seven rearranged songs from an earlier release, plus seven new compositions, including a cover by Phil Ochs and inspiration drawn from everyone from Shakespeare, to W.B. Yeats and Dave Van Ronk. Harrison’s vocals pour like warm, melted butter over richly picked acoustic guitar and mandolin, drawing from many folk traditions. Guests include the guitar of the understated Paul Mills, the harmonica of Chris Whiteley and Tom Leighton on accordion. This is a guitar record first — hence the reference to Lightfoot, yet the mood is highly introspective and manages to capture something "very Canadian,” recalling the late, great Stan Rogers. Of special note is the beautiful "The Parting Letter To Ophelia” and the shimmering instrumental "Watson Goes to the Park,” an upbeat ode to his son’s dog. Wheatfield With Crows was Van Gogh’s final offering. Let’s hope that Harrison has many more to follow. (Festival)