Jeff Cannon’s latest release is the hallmark of an ever-evolving artist. This third phase of his musical career shows us a contemplative songwriter simply seeking answers to 13 questions. Appropriately, the 13-tracks of the album deal with issues of commonality that run through us all: Isolation, otherness, regret, and institution to name a few. The universal issues are storyboarded against a collective life of musicality with the tracks ranging from demure to call to action and the instrumentation serving as aural compliment to the depth of the song ethos.[youtube P7fRxJ7Oz10]
The Folksy Rock swagger of opening track “Turn Of The Century” sees Cannon channeling a less nasally Tom Petty, over soaring electric intro work. The Bluesy distortion fits well with backing harmonica chirps and a driving melody that carries this one. The autobiographical “The Busker” recalls the songwriter’s time as performing street musician in Boston and Los Angeles. The mid tempo acoustic track evokes a Paul Simon approach to songwriting with its austere feel. The acoustic is bolstered by slight percussion and backing steel, adding to the eerie ethos of the track. “Wild Peace” is a soaring piece, calling the listener, not to arms; but the opposite–to get out of the way and allow unabated peace to rein. The undercurrent of electric melody carries the down tempo track while Cannon’s message stands at the foreground of the track. Backing vocals are supplied by his 14-year-old daughter, Emma. Inspired by the Occupy Movement, “Hypnotized and Occupied” is part social commentary; another part protest song opening to horn blasts, rat-a-tat snare work and backing electric work. Lyrically, Cannon’s words leave no room for interpretation with matter such as “occupy”, “99 to one” and “the ones in the sky get so high they rig the game.” This one is not only the most socially relevant; but also arguably the cleverest songwriting on the album. “You Belong To Me” marks the first of two covers on the album in this demure acoustic interpretation of the oft covered song. Simple and stripped down to acoustic, vocal tandem and weepy backing strings; this one is allowed to stand on its own merit in what is simply a beautiful rendition. Title track “13 Questions” opens to 70s influenced funk horn section work a la a vintage Chicago track, with distorted electric. The trumpet solo/fiddle work at the midpoint is the standout facet of the track and shows the musicality at Cannon’s ready disposal. Rounding out the tracks is a rendition of Lennon’s “Grow Old With Me.” Cannon’s admiration of the song led him to include this one on the album stating: “That song needs to be heard as much for that message as the beautiful wish in its title.” Brush snare keeps time while acoustic picking and electric add melody and fills. More female backing vocals bolster Cannon’s at the chorus through to the outro.
It goes without saying that anything ever written has some rhetorical character to it. But, 13 Questions transcends a simple raison d’etre–this is an album with a heart; a mind and a soul. This is more an introspection and testament to social awareness than record. If you want music that stirs your insides and demands that you think; pick this up and find 13 answers of your own.
By: Christopher West – firstname.lastname@example.org