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Fred Eaglesmith

Tinderbox – 2008 (A Major Label)

Reviewed by Jason MacNeil

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CDs by Fred Eaglesmith

Fred Eaglesmith works hard, doing things his way and reaping whatever accolades come as a result. So it's no surprise that the folksy troubadour offers up a healthy collage of styles beginning with the Appalachian-tinged "Sweet Corn" before heading directly into a rather groovy, soulful "Chain Gang" that could be mistaken for a Tom Waits b-side. Throughout it all though, Eaglesmith makes the album flow, especially on the Southern gospel-leaning "Shoulder To The Plow."

At 18 songs, there is a bit of fat here, but overall things gel. This is especially true on the old spiritual feel fueling "Killing Me," which brings to mind the Blind Boys Of Alabama, "Worked Up Field" is a song-dialogue mash up that sadly falls flat. Fortunately, that's one of the few exceptions to an otherwise quality effort with nuggets like the plodding but pretty "You Can't Trust Them" and the fire-and-brimstone blues of "Get On Your Knees."

A return to "Killing Me," "Killing Me II," is adequate, but the album could do without it. Nonetheless, the Canadian shines best on the tender, haunting "The Light Brigade." If you're waiting for Mark Knopfler to get around to the Notting Hillbillies again, this album will definitely suffice.