From the Water is the latest cd from Colin Linden an immensely talented and understated musician from Canada who already has a career spanning more than three decades – and not just as a singer. Colin is a songwriter, a top level guitarist and is particularly sought out for his production skills. So even if you have not yet heard of him – and that’s part of my job – you may still know his work behind the scenes and not realize it. Even more likely when you consider that Linden has played on more than 300 albums and produced close to 100. Fellow bluesman and friend Colin James, as well as Robert Plant and Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris are amongst some of the top names who have benefitted from Linden’s help either as a producer or a player. He also finds time – and how does this happen – to be part of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings in which he is flanked by fellow musicians Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson. One thing is for sure – the man knows his way around a blues tune and has a superb appreciation for music generally and historically. Linden is highly intuitive about what is needed to make something really work. In short, he “gets” what artists are trying to convey and then helps them get that message across.
From The Water as an album has plenty of blues and blues influence on it but it’s not swamp-immersed or restricted to the 3 bar turnaround although Linden’s slide work is somewhat supernatural; but there’s an interesting palatte of other genres on display here. Part of this may be due to the fact that the cd is dedicated to the late keyboardist Richard Bell Linden’s best friend and colleague. There’s definitely a melancholia present on some of the tracks that makes this more of a an atmospheric record at time – it’s certainly not a full-on beer tent bluesfest listen but the music here is intelligent, mood driven and thoughtful. There’s a little bit of unapologetic Nashville sensibility too. (Remember too that Linden was involved in O Brother Where Art Thou a few years back …) It’s blues for a discriminating listener.
From the Water is the opening track and I think it’s the best on the record. The lyrics are simple but sensitive – and oh so sexy – and there’s an amazing, spiraling solo spot that just swells and expands like a Pink Floyd interlude. Why must it end so soon?!
Trouble Comes in 3’s Linden is playful and bluesy on this one, a Hoochie Coochie inspired number that has highly amusing lyrics and a great vocal presence from Linden.
Devilment a short, sassy song about a woman who has “the Devilment” on her mind. (What can he mean do you suppose, heh heh?) Fav lyric here: You’re as thin as turpentine Yeah, sing it Colin, sing it …
John Lennon in New Orleans is a strange sad song but it’s definitely a return listen and thought provoking. Listen up.