Terry Penney 'The Last Guitar' Self-Release

The fifth album from Canadian singer-songwriter will be released early next year and it is one to look out for. Like most singing storytellers Terry Penney hasn't changed that much about his music rather he has honed his craft of marrying melody to word to create something memorable that has all the hallmarks of a career highpoint. Co-produced by Penny and Craig Young it has a warmth and intimacy that suits these tales that often draw from historic events and memories. There's the Ballad Of The Bayman Riders a song that tells of a brotherhood of bikers, full time rebels who lost their leader and unable to deal with the loss disbanded. The demise of religion in the shape of a disused church is the subject of the cleverly worded Jesus Crisis - "an old and broken building, useless as a dry and dusty well" while the guilt of not being able to serve with his friends is at the heart of I Have Offered. Though from Newfoundland Penny would be at home as a part of the Texas troubadour tradition, exemplified by the likes of Guy Clark. The instrumentation here is largely acoustic with fiddle, accordion, dobro, mandolin, banjo and acoustic guitar well to the fore giving the songs subtlety that well serves the songs and the singer. Though there are times I would have like some of the bite of the electric guitar that featured on Penney's previous albums. Penney's voice has naturally matured since his last album and he is able to bring an expressiveness to his words that draws the listener in. John Flood a song about a highwayman "a desperate thief with a family to feed" that shows Penney's penchant for weaving historical fact and fiction into his songs to give them a sense of depth. Flood was the last man to be hanged in public in Newfounland. This understanding of time and people is matched by a sense of place in songs like Girl From Coal Creek Canyon and Shoal Harbour. The title songs is a paean to the instrument that is central to his making music and details his first hand-me-down at seventeen to his current J-45 and the endless search for that perfect last guitar. On this showing he's doing pretty good with the ones he has, but as with life itself the search goes on.