Reviews Music Doug Paisley - Strong Feelings

Doug Paisley - Strong Feelings

Doug Paisley - Strong Feelings
Doug PaisleyStrong Feelings
Release Date: January 21, 2014
No Quarter Records; 10 Tracks; CD, MP3


Review by: Colton Eddy

If there's one thing that Canadians do very well, its crafting a finely tuned piece of Americana.

Toronto singer-songwriter Doug Paisley, a moustache-sporting plaiddict, has got nothing to prove. He is comfortably in good company and in his own words, this record is "just as earnest and straightforward" as anything he's done before. It's his own brand of earnest folk that is honest and relentlessly merciful in its unforgiving melodies.

On his last record, Constant Companion, attention was drawn from critical archetypes like the Rolling Stone Magazine and the New Yorker. It was the featured guests like Leslie Feist and Garth Hudson of The Band that brought light and perhaps a bit of credibility.

This time around on Paisley's third record, he fully embellishes the concept of collaboration. In turn, it creates an organic feel of spontaneity. He's accompanied by a band composed of acclaimed saxophonist Colin Stetson, Bazil Donovan, Gary Craig, Emmett Kelly, Robbie Grunwald, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Afie Jurvanen (of Bahamas) and Jason Sniderman. Then there is the incomparable Garth Hudson, whose delicate phrasing on "What's Up Is Down" is enough to stumble the heavy head of Robbie Robertson.
Hudson launches the record in a honky-tonk Delorean back in time on the opening song "Radio Girl" that illustrates a life "twenty five years ago" that strives on loneliness that has been a badge proudly worn by this generations likes of Jeff Tweedy, Ryan Adams and a 'Casadega'-era Conor Oberst. Sounding more melancholy than depressed.
"To and Fro" strolls into some reminiscent territory marked by Neil Young on "Mellow My Mind". Alright, if it's a scuffed poetic tune by a Canadian singer-songwriter, comparisons to ol' Shakey are nearly inevitable. However, Paisley manages to do so by stomping on the ground rather than grazing the grass. 

Before entering the album's closer, Afie Jurvanen of Bahamas - who once confessed to Sticky that he'd want Doug Paisley to play at his funeral - chimes in to deliver an anthemic ditty of Blue Rodeo standard with "Where The Light Takes You". In this song, if this were a direct concept record, the reflective poet in "Radio Girl" is building his courage to deliver the declaration in the final track.
"Because I Love You" with Mary Margaret O'Hara is brilliant. Paisley embodies his words as the off-the-ground production allows the listener to bear witness to a testimony as he sings, "this time I'm writing to you in a song."  And boy, does it ever recall those sincere, velvet duets between Graham & Emmylou or like Kris Kristofferson borrowed June Carter-Cash for the afternoon. 

If just to slow time into something scarce and manageable, these forty minutes provide ample kindling to set the mood. And in tradition with our nation's sweetest sounds, there's that feeling of nostalgic transformation back to a time when an album's beauty was not measure just by songs and musicianship, but also by its simplicity.