CD No Stranger (CD 869752),
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No Stranger


  • 1. Party's Not Over
    2. Glide
    3. While You Were Young
    4. White Horse
    5. Didn't Mean
    6. Rough & Tumble
    7. Out of My Head
    8. Deep Breath
    9. Nothern Star
    10. Since U Left Me
    11. Colour Blue
    12. Spirit in the Sky
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 0251706042

  • Credits
    Producer
    Engineer

    Tom Cochrane is perhaps not the most well-known entity, but in his own country, he has a stature akin to John Mellencamp, Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen. There's a reason for that: the man is a gritty, solid songwriter, who captures slices of everyday life and portrays them as they are; what passes before our own eyes or happens in the experiences of workaday life are profound, even if only to us. Cochrane has always celebrated those moments without tagging anything else onto them. He has been described as meat-and-potatoes; and maybe so. But if that's the case, check his hit "Life Is a Highway" that the country group Rascal Flatts rode all the way to the top of the charts and kept there for a long while because of its inclusion in the film Cars. If it's meat and potatoes, it's not just because of a hip little hook; the words in Cochrane's songs connect on a level most songwriters wish they could get even somewhat close to. Fellow countryman Bryan Adams may have socredd more chart hits, but that's because of his willingness to dwell in some eternal yet mythical teenage landscape, but he's not half the writer Cochrane is, and it's safe to bet that Cochrane's songs will be recorded by others for decades. This brings us to No Stranger, Cochrane's 2006 foray into stripped-down rock & roll played in the garage, the bar, or the concert hall. He can claim all those spaces as his own.
    As the first track, "The Party's Not Over," takes hold over a straight rock four/four backbeat and jangling, ringing, wide-open acoustic and electric guitars, Cochrane sings globally: "Jonah and Ali leave your boots at the door/You were brothers once, now leave your weapons on the floor/You don't need them anymore/As if God was on the side of anybody's war..." And then he brings it closer to home: "Take it all one day at a time/Everyone above ground is like a shiny new dime/'Don't go it alone you say it all the time/Watching your back as you're watching mine." He never shouts, never screams, it's all coming down to the simplest point and still feels like an anthem. "Glide" is more self-instruction gleaned from experience, with beautiful snaky guitars layered on top of the unplugged six-strings and rounded, warm power chords as a shuffling drum kit pushes it along at the right tempo. What he's up to is simple: transferring emotion, the emotion of living to the living. Nostalgia has no real place in Cochrane's songs; the past only matters in the grain of what's happening in the moment. It's all instructive. There is no escape, only travel. There is no hesitation, only the value of jumping right in with eyes wide open: check "While You Are Young." It's easy to see the appeal that Cochrane's tunes hold for country artists in the 21st century. He doesn't need to write country music per se, because his ownc transcends genres, and nowhere more so than on No Stranger. Many shades and shapes of life are here -- take the regret and amends offered in "White Horse," with its imagery and tight, clipped hook lines and open-door rock & roll chorus. He carries it further in "Didn't Mean," with a slippery bump-and-slip verse, distorted guitars and an unwound chorus; he inverts Dylan's "I Just Want to Be Friends with You" in wordplay, while singing from the other side of the mirror about life's hardships. Cochrane's in the soul of things here, from the country stroll of "Out of My Head" (look for someone in Nashville to cover this one without a doubt) through to the deep acknowledgement of commitment and gratitude that is "Northern Star"; a wily, laid-back rock tune with an edge (think of something from Springsteen's The Rising and you get it) , to his overdriven, feedback-laden reading of Norman Greenbaum's classic '60s hit "Spirit in the Sky" that's a grave, acid-drenched gospel tune. Cochrane's not only in the pocket on this one, but he rips it apart at the seams. No Stranger is a stellar moment in Cochrane's career, whether Yanks get it or not. That he keeps his wily lyrics in the rock & roll tradition only makes the music itself bigger, wider, deeper. If it had been released and promoted here, No Stranger would have been as highly regarded as some kind of comeback for a singer/songwriter who never went away; he does quite well in his own country and here in the U.S. in royalties. That he's chosen to record for people who get him up North is their gain and his; it's a loss for us south of that borderline., because No Stranger is Tom Cochrane's masterpiece -- thus far. ~ Thom Jurek

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