Cam Penner 'To Build A Fire' - Rawlco

A sombre brass and piano opening sets the tone for this new album from Penner, which delivers his sonic expressions of the basic needs that are required to live our lives. Building a fire would be central to that need and this album sets out ten songs that are built around something fundamental and focused. The music is played by Penner and co-producer and instrumentalist Jon Wood. The pair play a variety of instruments that run from the voice and guitar of This Could Be Your Anthem or Rivers Forgotten both of which are embellished by additional textures which underline the raw emotionalism which comes from Penner's honest rough hewn voice. Elsewhere there are blues riffs and wind-torn vocals that are earthy and full of hard won experience.

Penner has taken his music all over America and beyond. His travels have seen him strive to understand life's underbelly and the outsider, much in the way of a modern Woody Guthrie. This album though, comes from a time when Penner moved with his family from the city to a more open setting,  not that this has changed his passion for his music and delivering his songs in as direct a fashion as possible. Memphis has solid rhythm and guitar and banjo motifs that emphasise the vocal refrain of travel and the message that "I miss Texas more than it misses me". 

There's a lighter touch to the vocals on Curiosity which is a contemplation on open space and open mindedness. Gasoline Summers, House Of Liars and Whiskey Lips finish the album with equal veracity and vulnerability. Penner is a modern day troubadour looking at sin, sorrow and whatever means of salvation are necessary to find ways to salve his soul and to touch the souls of those who encounter his music. A torch lit from other fires has been used to build a new fire and Cam Penner welcomes you to sit round and feel its warmth.