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Friday, June 20, 2008

CD Review: Mike Ford - Canada Needs You, Volume 2

Mike Ford - Canada Needs You, Volume 2
2008, Mike Ford

Just about everything I know about Canadian Geography or History I learned from Mike Ford. I've never spoken to him on the subject, but through his songs I have learned about Oak Island, Sir John A, D'Arcy McGhee, The Great Toronto Fire of 1904, Oak Ridges Moraine, The Eastern Gap, and Thanadelthur (among others). In May of 2008, Mike Ford released Canada Needs You, Volume 2, a continuation in his Canadian song cycle.

The thing about Mike Ford is that he tackles subject matter that might not normally draw in listeners, but the music and the delivery are so entertaining that you find yourself grooving along while you learn. Tackling serious ideas and issues with humor and panache has been an earmark of Mike Ford's songwriting since his Moxy Fruvous days, and if anything he has blossomed as a songwriter in his solo releases. Canada Needs You, Volume 2 continues the growth seen on last year's Satellite Hotstove (see review here).

Canada Needs You, Volume 2 opens with Creeping Barrage, an urgent ballad about the personal wages of war. The song is particularly prescient in these times because it avoids the political arguments of right or wrong and just points to the costs. This may be one of the best (and most understated) anti-war songs I've heard. Talkin' Ten Lost Years is an entertaining look at the effects of the Great Depression in Canada, told in a speak/sing style reminiscent of Arlo Guthrie. Let's Mobilize is a big-band tune about Canada's involvement in World War 2, and will have you wanting to be up and dancing the jitterbug within the first two bars.

Joey Smallwood is a comic take on the life of the controversial New Foundland politician who led the drive to include New Foundland in the Canadian Union, while Maurice Richard is a loving tribute to the hockey great. Open For Business is the most rocking song on the album and deals with pros and cons of globalization. This song is done in a style reminiscent of a Johnny Cash tune, and is incredibly entertaining. The Giants is an ode to the protestors in the Clayoquot River Basin in 1992, many of whom were arrested and tried for social protests to protect the natural beauty of that region from loggers and corporate interests.

Nestled in amongst the above are tunes such as In Winnipeg, Tea Party, Canada Doesn't Need You, Expo 67!, and I'm Gonna Roam Again -- all great tunes for which I have less contextual understanding, but great respect nonetheless.

Mike Ford is an enigma in today's pop music culture. He writes great songs full of thoughtful and sometimes humorous lyrics. The music stands on its own as great art, and you just might learn a little bit along the way. As a special bonus for Moxy Fruvous fans, there is an unheralded mini reunion on Canada Needs You, Volume 2, as all four members appear in some capacity or other. Canada Needs You, Volume 2 gets Wildy's World's highest rating, and qualifies as one of our certified Desert Island Discs!

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Mike Ford at You can purchase Canada Needs You, Volume 2 through Maple Music .

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