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Craig Robertson live
So often it’s the small things in our lives that contain the most meaning—a box full of keys, a cheap old watch, a flask resting on the passenger seat of a beat up Pontiac. Every great storyteller knows this to be true. They are the glue that holds our lives together, and what makes Craig Robertson’s new album Late Mornings an unforgettable listening experience.
For his third full-length effort, the Toronto-based singer/songwriter turned to Cowboy Junkies co-founder Michael Timmins (no slouch as a songwriter himself) for production assistance, and together with Robertson’s regular cast of players they crafted a dozen songs that cast a light onto dark territory few artists dare tread upon. By choosing detail over confession, Robertson acts more like a guide throughout the album, shifting between scenes populated by characters teetering on the brink—as on the opening track “Drunk In Vegas”—or simply wondering when exactly the world passed them by—as on the heartbreaking “Decker Hollow.”
Late Mornings brims with such description of life’s other side, a skill Robertson has honed over the past six years since he quit a full-time job to solely concentrate on making music. “I had always written songs, but it was always on the edges of my life,” he says. “Now it’s central, something I do every day. My best songs come from real life situations or feelings, so I’m constantly pursuing that muse and jotting down ideas.”
Robertson also notes how his creative evolution is linked to how his band, consisting of guitarist/mandolin player Bob Strome, bassist Jamie Thwaites and drummer James Clark, has gelled in recent years through regular gigging. Indeed, Late Mornings was laid down virtually live at Timmins’ studio The Hangar in only five sessions, with many of the songs being first takes. Robertson later added background vocals, along with lap steel by Andrew James Barker and fiddle by James McKie.
Although Robertson may downplay the narrative aspects of his music, Late Mornings is much like a great short story collection, a work of art that one can become totally immersed in, and reveals new insights each time it’s revisited. With it, Craig Robertson has made an undeniable claim to be mentioned alongside Canada’s best contemporary singer/songwriters.