Listening to: Bruce Cockburn, Slice O Life (Live Solo)

Bruce Cockburn Slice O Life

A review of Bruce Cockburn’s Slice O Life (Live Solo) (2009)

A lovely and complex CD this, Bruce Cockburn‘s first live album of just him and his guitar. Recorded in 2008 at a variety of shows, this is a strong set of well-known tunes and less familiar gems, interspaced with background stories and live banter. Cockburn comes across as a good-natured entertainer, someone who has aged gracefully from being a political singer-songwriter into a musician first and foremost.

The record was produced by Colin Linden and has a clean, thoughtfully balanced sound, not too echo-y, not too dry, that gives a good impression of the rooms it was recorded in. It’s filled with classics that, I’m told, all Canadians know. Since I didn’t grow up here, some of these songs are new discoveries for me, and this is a great way of discovering them, stripped to their essence. Cockburn is a very gifted rythm guitarist, adept at fingerpicking driving music that could stand on its own (and it has, on 2005’s Speechless).

If, like me, you’re somewhat new-ish to Cockburn’s music, I’ll leave you with some favourite lines from ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Time’ and encourage you to hear ‘Slice O Life’ if you can. I’ll be seeking out more Bruce Cockburn.

These fragile bodies of touch and taste | This vibrant skin – this hair like lace | Spirits open to the thrust of grace | Never a breath you can afford to waste | When you’re lovers in a dangerous time.

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