Bruce Cockburn is Canadian musical royalty and rightly so. Small Source Of Comfort is his 31st album release yet given his vast output, he just doesn't release a bad record. He just doesn't. Along with the likes of Tom Paxton, the mere mention of Cockburn's name carries a seal of quality. A beat poet of sorts, definitely a protest singer, Cockburn has never been afraid to voice his opinions and that is something that has not changed with Small Source Of Comfort. Much of this album was written during his travels which took in the diversity of Brooklyn to Kandahar in Afghanistan. As always with Cockburn he has a way of uniting lyrics and melody with effortless ease and this is nowhere more evident than in the sombre Each One Lost which relates to the deaths of two young Canadian soldiers which happened while he was in Kandahar. It is a genuinely touching song that had the hairs on the back of my neck standing.
There are plenty of lighter moments like on Call Me Back which deals with the frustration of waiting for a phone call. One of the most interesting ideas on the album is in the form of the track Call Me Rose which sees Richard Nixon reincarnated as a single mother living on benefits in a housing project with her two kids. I think they call it karma. Of the 14 tracks on the album, 5 of them are instrumentals with Bohemian 3-Step and Lois On the Autobahn being the pick of the bunch, showcasing Cockburn's considerable guitar skills.
Definite highlight is the mournful tango Radiance which you would not be surprised being sung in a back street Fado bar in Lisbon's Bairro Alto. Driving Away is another standout which features the additional vocals of Annabelle Chvostek who co-wrote the song. It really is a beautiful song, full of melancholy and the perfect accompaniment for that late night glass of wine before bed.
As I said before, Cockburn just doesn't make bad records but this is not his best album, far from it, and may disappoint some fans but stick with it. It is a grower.