There is much to be said about the story behind Paper Nickels, the elaborate and inviting packaging, or any of the over a dozen songwriters whose tunes are on display. But this is not the space to do so [ed. note: check our feature for more info]. Let’s focus instead on the music that Corin Raymond & The Sundowners recorded live over two nights in Toronto last year. The performances are top notch folk music, with Corin’s voice (and trademark stage banter between tracks) front row centre.
The Sundowners, playing stand-up bass, piano and squeeze box, offer spot on but understated accompaniment to Raymond over both discs, with Treasa Levasseur on backup vocals, and taking centre stage for a beautiful rendition of Jonathan Byrd’s “Little Bird” midway through the first disc. With upbeat, tongue and cheek tunes like Bob Hannan’s “If I Were You Instead of Me,” A.G. Olmstead’s “The Lord Loves a Wino,” and Rob Vaarmeyer & Corin’s “A Big Truck Brought It” cohabitating nicely with tear jerkers like Scott Nolan’s “Dutch” and Max Metrault’s “Anastasia.”
Stand out tracks, for me, are Corin & Co’s versions of Rob Vaarmeyer’s “Ol’ Fort Mac,” Andrew Neville’s “Brand New Song,” and Ridley Bent & Dustin Bentall’s “Nine Inch Nails.” The tune that inspired the whole disc (and caper itself), “Don’t Spend It Honey,” is also as beautiful a trailer trash love ballad as has ever been penned, north or south of the border. If you consider yourself a fan of folk music, you better be planning to pick this up if you haven’t done so already. (Independent, dontspendithoney.ca) Sheldon Birnie