My love of CR Avery is deep and well documented. His short set opening up for Billy Bragg at the PNCA in 2008 is still seared in my memory and remains the best opening set I have ever seen.
CR comes as close as any performer I’m aware of to channel Tom Waits during his beat poet phase. On top of that - he’s also a killer pop songwriter.
His latest release The Great Canadian Novel is his best album yet (although his best song is still “Disclosure” from Chainsmoking Blues). It begins with the punchy guitar riffs of the hilarious and sardonic “Folk Singer” and transitions seamlessly to the bluegrass-meets-hip-hop of “Town to Town”. The record hits a soaring high with the epic track “Channeling Frustrated Energy” - a torrent of verse poetry cascading over a Crazy Horse style riff interrupted by a blistering harmonica solo. The record ends with portrait of Pierre Trudeau and CR asserting his identity as a Canadian progressive.