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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bradford Monk & The Foggy Hogtown Boys – Bradford Monk & The Foggy Hogtown Boys

Bradford Monk & The Foggy Hogtown Boys – Bradford Monk & The Foggy Hogtown Boys
2011, Bradford Monk & The Foggy Hogtown Boys
Bradford Monk is a Canadian-born singer/songwriter known for his depth and honesty.  Monk has three albums under his belt, playing in the realm of Americana (rock, traditional country and occasionally gospel).  Like many who travel this path, it’s only a matter of time before they stumble into bluegrass.  Monk doesn’t so much stumble as dance through the door in early 2011, teaming up with Toronto’s The Foggy Hogtown Boys to release the appropriately named Bradford Monk & The Foggy Hogtown Boys. 
Monk opens with the solid country/bluegrass tune”Suzanne”, an attempt to ply a lady away from her beau.  The song is sweet in its approach to a love unrequited.  “Maybe Baby” is a charming love song with a melody that will sneak up on you and get stuck in your grille.  The gentle country arrangement and backing vocals are all perfect touches.  “Hold On Darling” will get people out of their seats.  Monk explores a relationship that continually falls apart because he’s in love with the girl but doesn’t know how to be in love.  The picking and fiddle work here are dizzying.  “Rosie” is a touching number from a man who has seen his wife pass on.  It’s a love song and a prayer asking to join his one true love even it means passing beyond the veil.  This is an amazing bit of songwriting; emotionally moving and insightful beyond words.
“I’m Alright” is raucous bluegrass that’s danceable and even mixes in a bit of gospel feel in the process.  The song is about getting back to the simple and important things in life.  Fiddler John Showman and banjo player Chris Collins turn the world upside down on this tune.  “Bringing Coal” is a story-song about love, allegiances and even adultery.  The vocal harmonies show a touch of high lonesome sound in a more modern setting; the sound is stunning.  “The Cowboy And Pearl” is the story of a rodeo rider and his second love; the one who becomes the most important in his life after his career is ended by a tragic injury.  Chris Coole’s guitar work adds a mournful that’s starkly beautiful.  “Titanic (When The Great Ship Goes Down)” is a classic shipwreck tune done in traditional bluegrass/gospel style.  The song is a fun listen in spite of the dark subject matter, and sits well alongside traditional bluegrass material. 
“Love And War” sticks to a simple form that allows The Foggy Hogtown Boys show off their instrumental genius around and between Monk’s lyrics.  This is one of those tunes you simply can’t still for.  “Remember Everyday” is a down-home love song about the deepest of devotion.  Don’t be surprised to hear “Remember Everyday” used as a country wedding song, whether in movies or in real life.  “Sweet Mary” is a minimalist love song; an outstanding bit of songwriting laced with hints of innuendo.  Monk may remind you a bit of Lyle Lovett here; and it’s a comparison that will hit home with real weight.  While Monk’s sense of humor isn’t, perhaps, quite as bizarre as Lovett’s; there are certainly parallels in their ability to craft a story or bring a character to life in their songs.  Monk closes with a live take on “Too Much Talkin’ Not Enough Drinkin’”, a song that explores being with a girl who talks too much.  A pure blend of honky-tonk and bluegrass, “Too Much Talkin’ And Not Enough Drinkin’” is pure fun, and The Foggy Hogtown Boys go to town on this one in support of Monk.
Bradford Monk continues to develop as an artist; broadening the scope of his songwriting without losing the essential character of his music.  Bradford Monk & The Foggy Hogtown Boys is inspirational, keeping a traditional bluegrass sound alive in modern songs that sit well in any area.  After hearing Bradford Monk And The Foggy Hogtown Boys for the first time you’ll run to your computer and check to see if they’re coming to your town.  If you’re lucky, they will be.  Bradford Monk is the sort of songwriter we’ll still be talking about twenty years from now, and The Foggy Hogtown Boys are one of the finest bluegrass outfits in North America.  This album is a match made in heaven.
Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Bradford Monk at or Monk & The Foggy Hogtown Boys is available digitally from both and iTunes.

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