Music Reviews
Fred Eaglesmith

Fred Eaglesmith

Tinderbox

A Major Label

Ontario’s Fred Eaglesmith once again delves into elemental and primal aspects of human existence with the eloquence, literacy, musicality, and emotional potency that have become his trademarks.

A self-described Buddhist, Tinderbox finds Eaglesmith visiting what might resemble a Pentecostal Church high on storied Sand Mountain, Alabama where — at least in literature going back 100 years — deep spirituality has co-existed with deep depravity, but where faith and hope abound.

“Fancy God” takes a dig at the mega-churches where the parishioners “seed-offerings” often serve to supply the Preachers, Prophets, Bishops — or whatever title they endow themselves with — with bling, expensive cars, tailored suits, and mansion-like homes. “Your God is a fancy God he’s not the God I know…” and “Chain Gang” is probably the best Springsteen song that Bruce never wrote — but will wish that he had.

Earthy, simple, beautiful, and cosmically-fitting in its timing in several ways, the release of Tinderbox comes in the wake of the recent loss of longtime band mate and Canadian folk legend/mandolin virtuoso Willie P. Bennett, who was such a powerful presence in the band that even those who didn’t really get Fred simply adored Willie.

Eaglesmith songs have been covered by Kasey Chambers, The Cowboy Junkies, and most recently, Toby Keith with his version of “White Rose”, as well as Ralph Stanley II’s upcoming version of “Carter”. James King also covered “Thirty Years of Farming,” a song that ended up being the Bluegrass Song of The Year a couple of years ago. Tinderbox should extend Fred’s reach. Starbucks has requested a license to play this release in 10,000 of their locations. I can also imagine the Blind Boys of Alabama pulling a song or two from this one.

Fred Eaglesmith: http://www.fredeaglesmith.com


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