Dirty Linen – “Night Drive” Review

April 1, 1997

in News,Press

Night Drive 1996

More and more I’ve watched an evolution in the music of Garnet Rogers. One of Canada’s finest baritone singers. Rogers has grown as a songwriter and as an interpreter. On Night Drive he brings the electric show that has marked his recent concerts into the studio, and the results are nothing less than stellar. The high-powered production brings in Duke Levine and Dan Achen on electric guitars and Mike Bonnell on organ. Intermingled with the electric rock are blues and the folk stylings that his fans have come to expect — tender acoustic-guitar-backed ballads powered largely by Rogers’ affecting voice.

Rogers is a master musical storyteller, often dealing in songs of the heart. His characters exude striking familiarity, revealing enormous inner strength. or wrapped within their own delusions, nearly always interacting and sympathetic. Through them, Rogers digs an emotional well and invites the listener in for a long, refreshing drink. He offers touching ballads with the string-sweet “Roman Coin” or the acoustic-guitar-backed “Phone Booth” in which a failed relationship still offers a glimmer of hope. or of desperation. The rock of “Never So Lonely” tells of an abused woman who gathers the strength to leave her man. “Seeds of Hope”, with music written for dulcimer by David Tamulevich and backing vocals from David Sereda, becomes a tour de force of organ and guitar with a highly singable melody and a hopeful expression of love and strength:

Dry your eyes there is an end to sorrow
Dry your eyes there is an end to night
Dry your eyes and we will shake this shadow
The dark will run before the light.

His atmospheric instrumental “Borealis” blends masterfully with songs iike “Golden Fields” a reminiscence: to days of youth and images of the plains of Western Canada. Its electronically processed electric guitar provides a resonance that gives the melody mystery and the impression of the passing of time. Rogers touches a topical chord in “Colliertown” the story of a tragic mining accident and corporate greed. His voice booms and growls, while his electric guitar screams revealing the anger and emotion that permeate the song’s characters.

Rogers also appreciates and interprets just plain old good songs, playing an electric version of Greg Brown’s light-hearted velvet- painting story Of “Jesus and Elvis” then he plays slide guitar in an affecting rendition of the traditional cheating song “Corrinna Corrinna ” or David Olney’s “Love’s Been Linked to the Blues”.

Though this album is more electric than his previous efforts, it shows a growth in Rogers’ music without losing that sense of song, of melody and of story that must be present to keep the listener interested. It’s what separates him from musicians who simply add more production simply because they can.

Stephen A.Ide (Norton, MA)
Dirty Linen
ISSUE #69 April/May ’97

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