Present Times’ packaging, simple black ink artwork on deep brown cardboard has a warm, organic comfort to it as does the music it contains. Winnipeg singer-songwriter Alexander McCowan has a rich, soothing voice that is perfectly suited to his words. The lyrics express a deep and profound connection to both the earth and the human condition and convey a sense of peace amid the chaos. This is most evident in the title track, a reminder to appreciate the moment we have and to breathe deeply, “Just behold these present times.” With McCowan’s warm vocals, this ballad takes on a hymn-like quality, and is absolutely gorgeous. This album moves seamlessly from deep to delightful; “Honey From The Honeybee” is a sweet bluegrass tumbler and “Portrait Of My Lady” is a playful love song, the complete line being “Portrait of my lady slipping on her blue jeans.” Present Times is a fine album start to finish, and an impressive follow-up to 2010’s Thief.
(Independent, alexandermccowan.com) Broose Tulloch