Ths suite of songs from recording artist Greg Keelor (Blue Rodeo) is in tribute to his father.
Dirge-like and funereal, Seven Songs for Jim is Greg Keelor's meditative ode to the loss of his father, Jim, who died in 2003 at the age of 80. From the haunting opening strains of "Silver Sun," it is clear that this is a work of pure catharsis -- and be forewarned: it is a depressing listen. Over the scope of seven songs and 41 minutes, Keelor single-handedly reminisces about his father ("Deep Bay Road"), questions his mortality ("Are You Ready"), and mourns his loss (the closing "Ocean of Sorrow," which verges on sounding like Leonard Cohen). The entire album is Keelor, a guitar, and his multi-tracked vocals, lending the entire affair an intimate sorrowful feel. Most interesting is the original version of "Are You Ready" (which is played over plucked strings as opposed to the rocking version that would become the title track of the next Blue Rodeo album) -- "No more whiskey/No more cigarettes/Your last breath just like a sunset" before dropping out everything except the vocals on the line, "Are you ready -- ready to die?/Is there anything I can do/Cause say'n goodbye to you will be the hardest thing that I ever do." The result is a heartbreaking eulogy of a record -- and one of the most powerful tributes to a father one can imagine. But prepare yourself for one heavy listening experience before sitting down with Seven Songs for Jim. It fulfills its purpose with masterful precision -- and is every bit as affecting as you'd expect it would be. Not for those who depress easily. ~ Tomas Mureika