(this is my review of my good friend Eric Angus Whyte's new record. Eric was kind enough to invite me to write the sleeve notes. The album is launched tomorrow in Canada and we hope to have the European launch in Belfast in late January.)
There something about Canada and Ireland. They both live in the shadow of more powerful nations but secretly know that they are deeper and more fragrant of soul! The proof is in the songs. Canada and Ireland still love it live, raw and organic. They still love the craft, the story and what’s real. Eric Angus Whyte lives in both countries (though technically Belfast is in the UK, it is very definitely Ireland too!) and the record you are holding is a product of both; the instrumental So It Begins could actually be the soundtrack of the voyage between the two that Whyte’s ancestors took so many years ago.
Whyte builds his art on deftly finger fretboard dances and at times on this album gets to waltzes with fellow Canadian guitar hero Stephen Fearing whose production does perfectly all that needs to be done and no more. On top of the musical dexterity Whyte then weaves songs of love, loss and history, songs of tenderness, justice and hope, songs of life and faith and family. Story songs like Irish Wave Goodbye, Luddite Sons and Wallis Simpson takes moments of the past and makes comment that is profound in the present. In the subjectivity of Landscapes and Mercy’s Porch, personal songs of aging and fatherhood, Whyte gently lays some objective truth on and between the lines. Love Gone Wrong, the gentle blues of Shed These Clothes and the elegiac splendour of She’s Like The Swallow are melancholy songs of loss with glimmers of light sneaking through the cracks as his fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen pointed out how it is.
Beyond all this Whyte plays a mean hammer dulcimer and Beggars and Buskers of Belfast might reek of his hero Rich Mullins’ influence but adds another sparkling hue to the piece. Eric Angus Whyte songs are great companions for those who seek songs that do more than tickle the ears; open the door of your soul and be alert to what slips through.