Review: Greg MacPherson – Mr. Invitation

greg_macpherson’Peg City favourite son Greg MacPherson is now onto his sixth album, and with Mr. Invitation he scores big points for once again keeping it all very real. G-Mac doesn’t really fit into any neat musical categories, and that is most likely by his own design. We the listeners are the benefactors of this rather iconoclastic stance. As usual, urban angst looms large in the songs. MacPherson has the keen ability to write delicate songs, dug directly from his own first-person experience, and make them keenly universal in scope. Whether he’s riding a bus in “West End,” considering geographical relocation in “Visitor,” or just taking stock of his situation in “Traveling Style,” the songs are usually about some kind of forward motion. The heart-on-sleeve attitude that MacPherson delivers isn’t a weakness either. This is a guy that allows difficult emotions to simmer to the surface and then deals with them with consideration—something that the alpha males of the species should be advised to try once in a while. MacPherson’s band deserves special mention, especially nimble-fingered guitarist Steve “Batso” Bates and thinking-man’s percussionist Jason Tait (of the Weakerthans). Both these cats understand that MacPherson’s music is about understatement buoyed by the strength of conviction, and that is exactly how they play. Bates’ playing comes off like daubs of colour in a sometimes-grey bleak landscape, while Tait actually “plays” his kit rather than just banging away at it. The album sounds good, too. The production is airy and bright and even when the band is kicking out the jams a little bit it always sounds clean and present. MacPherson deserves all this at this stage in his career. He has worked long and hard getting to where he really needs to be to attract an even wider base of fans. This album should get him there. (Smallman Records, Jeff Monk