David Solway, an award-winning Canadian poet and author, has revealed
another side of his multiple talents. Solway the songster is now
available on his new CD Blood Guitar and Other Tales.
It’s a stunning musical debut.
Guitar offers thirteen gems with lyrics and music entirely created
by Solway. Ably rendering his own compositions on voice and guitar,
Solway is expertly backed up by Canadian musicians Ted Paul and
Margaret Armstrong. I cannot too strongly recommend this musical
stroll through essential issues of life.
extraordinarily poignant “So It Goes” Solway sings
of “the silence in between the tick and tock . . . ”
Time is one of the main concerns of this set of songs. The other
is love. How does one embark on new love when one has long been
scarred by time and knows that it keeps “ticking in the
heart” (“The Most of It”)? Taken together these
songs are a vote in favour of love, of taking the leap of faith
even if it means being “half-demented” (“Speaking
even though a couple of central motifs run through them, walking
through these songs is like passing through a museum of very varied
displays. Like straightforward love songs with sweet country-style
melodies? There’s “I Live to Love You.” Looking
for a black-comedic tour de force about man’s perplexities
in dealing with woman? There’s “The Witch.”
the title song “Blood Guitar,” superficially happy-go-lucky
even though “when you look beneath the hood, you see it’s
not all good”: that is, that there’s something scary
at the heart of life. And there’s “Rose of Time,”
yet another take on the time theme, this one expressing the wistful
wish that one’s lover had always been one’s own exclusively—and
finally hinting that maybe, on a spiritual plane, that really
is the case.
the social commentator also makes an appearance in the first song
of the collection, the very charming “Gananoque Lake.”
It’s about a young man, an army veteran who is “hard
as flint” and “thinks laziness a crime,” who
does some yard work and thanks his temporary employer “for
working me hard.” As the song goes on to comment:
there’s no other way, to be a man
But labour all day, like Gananoque Dan
Don’t cheat or steal, or act like a crank
Put shoulder to wheel, and money in the bank.
The contrast with another sort of person couldn’t be greater:
And now I think, of that other bunch
Who Occupy things, and want a free lunch . . .
lyrics, by the way, are simple, supple, homespun, and yet very
rich. That quatrain starting “Well there’s no other
way” gives one of the bedrock truths that you have to internalize
if you’re going to get anywhere in life. And in that regard,
apart from their specific import, such words are representative
of this whole trove of songs.
Solway the poet, winner of two prizes for collections of literary
poetry, has applied his word-making wizardry to a more popular
genre and succeeded wonderfully. You can do yourself a great favor
by printing out and reading, or following on your android, these
songs’ lyrics (available at the above-linked website) as
you listen. They pass the ultimate test of inexhaustible richness
listen to this CD once, think “That’s nice,”
and forget about it. A fine distillation of profound thought and
emotion, it draws you in deeper and deeper.