This sprawling collection of lush and often pretty numbers is the work of Gordon Downie
-- lead singer for the Tragically Hip
. Fans of the Hip's classic rock will undoubtedly be left scratching their heads at this album that's more country than rock, and more jazzy than poppy. The bold statements of Gordon Downie
's rock heritage have been abandoned in pursuit of the subtle and the subdued. The instrumentation on this record owes more to vaudeville than to Woodstock. Loose production across the board says that these are songs played by people in a room rather than the injection-molded nuggets of radio rock fans might expect. Based on and accompanied by a book of poetry, as a collection of songs, this album works remarkably well. It echoes Tom Waits
or fellow Canadians the Rheostatics rather than just an unplugged Tragically Hip. Thankfully, what has the potential for great pretension (songs built on poetry, guest appearances from the likes of film director Atom Egoyan
) manages to escape relatively unscathed. While Coke Machine Glow
is a bit long and sprawling, it has moments of greatness where it all comes together: the album gem "Chancellor," or the marching "Vancouver Divorce," and the lighthearted polka stomp of "Yer Possessed."